Ho Chi Minh City Communist party head encourages labor unions to strike

The secretary of the Party Committee of Ho Chi Minh City wants labor unions of companies citywide to be more effective in staging legitimate strikes for workers, a request that sparked quite a debate on Tuesday.

As Dinh La Thang met with the municipal Labor Confederation chairwoman Tran Kim Yen Tuesday morning during his visit to the Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone in District 7, he challenged her with a surprise question.

“Have labor unions under your confederation ever organized any successful strike?” the municipal Party chief said.

Yen could not respond anything other than “Never.”

Thang went on saying that if there has yet to be any successful union-backed strike to take place, the Labor Confederation “should be brave in doing so.”

“I have been briefed at all of the previous job actions were done totally of workers’ own accord,” the Party chief said.

“What’s worth noticing is that most of the workers’ demands were met following the strikes, which indicates that their requests are legitimate.”

This leads to a bigger question, he added, as to why employers only accepted those requests when workers have resorted to walkout, while negotiations initiated by the labor unions usually fail.

“So why the unions do not stage lawful strikes for workers?” he questioned.

Even though left surprised by the audacious question, some attendants of the meeting with Thang voiced their disagreement with his view.

Tran Thanh Hong, deputy direct of the Tan Thuan Co. Ltd., made no secret of his view that it is better to have no strike than a successful walkout.

“I think the labor union should try to develop a mechanism so that workers have their demands met without having to go on strike,” Hong told the Party chief.

“Spontaneous strikes may be reasonable in some cases, but in other cases, it will bring in bad consequences, which is very dangerous,” he said.

To avoid these consequences, Hong added, there must be a capable union leader and a proper striking procedure.

“There are strikes that went on for seven days but in the end no one was found to be the leader,” he said.

Thang said the problem is that workers never consider the union officials their leaders. “We have to think about this issue seriously,” he said.

In the meantime, the city’s Labor Confederation chairwoman Yen said if workers can achieve what they want through illegitimate strikes, it will lead to bad precedent for more walkouts to come.

“The Labor Confederation will continue working on this issue to ensure that unions at companies can well protect the rights of workers there,” Yen promised.

Photo: Party chief Dinh La Thang (2, right) meets workers in Ho Chi Minh City.