1. How do you evaluate the impact of TPP on labor environment of Vietnam?
Answer: Being touted as the 21st century trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) also includes the strongest provisions on labour in history. In total 14 FTAs to which Vietnam is a party, the TPP is also its first FTA including labour provisions. If TPP is implemented fully, it will help improve on-the-ground labour conditions in its member countries by adopting binding and fully enforceable obligations to, among other, freely form unions and bargain collectively. The TPP is also the chance for member countries, especially Vietnam, to improve living standards and work quality for its own employees.
2. If TPP is fully implemented, does it help improve the labor conditions in its member in general and in Vietnam in particular?
Answer: Please see my answer also to Question 1 above.
3. According to you, how will TPP transform Vietnam Labour’s practices?
Answer: In the TPP, Vietnam has made a critical commitment, i.e., establishment of organization representing employees at grass-root level being independent of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour. Differently speaking, TPP has laid a foundation for pluralism in trade union area. If independent TUs are established in Vietnam, employees’ living standards and rights will be much more improved as their TU will be one which can speak their voice.
Notably, in the side agreement mentioned above with the United States, a separate enforcement mechanism independent of the TPP if the United States is dissatisfied with Vietnam’s implementation.
Therefore, Vietnam must amend the current TU regulations towards international labour standards, despite the fear that rights of employees may be made political, resulting in instability of the country. The schedule for Vietnam to amend its legal system to materialize its commitments is already indicated in the side agreement with the United States as follows:
Principle 1: Right of workers to freely form and joint a labour union of their choice
Principle 2: Ability of labour unions to administer their affairs with autonomy
Principle 3: Worker representation in non-unionized workplaces
Principle 4: Representability in Selection of union officials
Principle 5: Non-interference of employers in organizational activity of labour unions.
4. Do you have any advice for Vietnam regarding to law on trade union to make the best use of TPP (export to its members, especially the US)?
In addition to my answer in Question 3 above, the Law on Trade Union must be amended:
(i) to allow workers to freely form and joint a labour union of their choice.
(ii) to protect workers from discrimination, especially in the use of trade union’s fee.
(iii) to ensure the right to go on strike of workers (remove cases where workers are not allowed to go on strike or go on strike outside their working place, etc.)
Please do not hesitate to contact Oliver Massmann under firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.