VN labour market adjusting to disruptive change

Disruptive change is leading to the re-regulation of work and employment around the world, including in Vietnam, Gregor Murray of the University of Montreal in Canada, said.

Garment workers at Dong Xuan Loc Company in southern Dong Nai Province.


“Disruptive change creates uncertainty, destabilises existing forms of workregulation, and pushes economic and social actors to seek new solutions, oftencombining old and new forms of regulation, and engaging in reflexivity bytrying to think through the implications of what they’re doing,” he said.

Murray spoke at a two-day international conference on global challenges andlocal responses for transformation of labour relations which started in Ho ChiMinh City on July 15.

Social actors who are better equipped interms of resources and capabilities are more likely to contribute to better,and not worse, work, he said.

However, there is a need to determine what resources and capabilities areneeded, and in what contexts.

"The challenge of better work includes economic and social risk, the control over one’s work and working life, and competencies and voice at theindividual, organisational, and societal levels,” he said.

"Six fault lines" that lead to re-regulation or a new hierarchy of regulation of work and employment are: disruptive technologies, redefinition ofthe role of the State, unbundling of the firm, reconfiguration of global production networks, sustainable development, and shifts or disconnects in identity, solidarity and values.

Dr Do Quynh Chi of the Research Centre for Employment Relations said thatexternal influences such as the CPTPP and EVCTA trade agreements build upon internal demands to result in institutional changes, but may also hamper internal labour reform.

All of these factors should force Vietnam to make commitments to comply with core labour standards, Chi said.

The trade agreements also expand export-oriented industries in the country, shesaid, adding that 95 percent of key exports are made through global supplychains, leading to more stringent monitoring of corporate social responsibility(CSR) standards in the chains and price squeezing.

CSR compliance results in rising costs, but suppliers do not reward forcompliance and brands face pressure to lower production prices by 5 percent to10 percent each year, Chi said.

That is why suppliers tend to lower labour standards to minimise labour costs,she explained. Fierce competition may make companies resist labour reform sincesuppliers have to compete on labour costs within the supply chain.

In addition, Vietnam faces challenges to escape the middle-income trap, sheadded.  Because of these influences, thecountry has gradually reformed labour legislation, she said.

Technological innovation causes a long-term reduction of labour demands, and agrowing need for labour upskilling, as well as more staff in informationindustries, she said.

New forms of employment relationships are also being created, and new ways toprotect workers’ rights and interests are needed.

Sean Cooney of the Melbourne Law School noted that "triangular work"was becoming more common in many countries.

“While there are many problems caused by fissuring, there are already manyinnovative solutions that can be considered in formulating responses,” headded.

The conference at the HCM City University of Law was attended by many local andforeign legal experts, policymakers, researchers and NGO delegates.

The conference's main aim was to help Vietnam ensure labour rights andbenefits. It was held by the university in cooperation with the SouthernInstitute of Social Sciences.

Vietnam is a signatory to the ILO Convention 98 on the Right to Organise andCollective Bargainiing and is collecting opinions on an amended labour code.

The conference discussed legal frameworks, labour standards, social compliance,globalisation and gender relations in formal and informal sectors, and diverseperspectives of labour, capital and the State in a globalising economy.-VNS

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