Vietnam’s independent labor union goes public

(VNRN) – The Free Viet Labor Confederation on June 9 issued a statement calling for the release of imprisoned labor activists and declaring their decision to come out with activities to protect “the legitimate rights of the undefended Vietnamese laborers.”

In the statement, made in Ho Chi Minh City at a meeting of civil society activists, the Confederation denounced the Vietnamese Communist Party for jeopardizing the interests of Vietnamese farmers and workers. “The Socialist Republic of Vietnam proclaims itself to be a state built on a worker-peasant coalition, but in reality it has betrayed the interests of these two largest groups in the population of Vietnam.  This can be witnessed in the millions of victims of land injustice that one sees roaming the country and the Vietnamese workers throughout history have also never been as exploited as they are at the present time, showing a huge gap of income between the rich and the poor throughout Vietnam,” the statement said.

On the other hand, the Party-owned labor union, called the Vietnamese General Confederation of Labor [Tổng Liên đoàn Lao động Việt Nam], has failed to protect the rights of the working class. As a result, three separate independent labor unions were established, including the Independent Vietnamese Trade Union [Công đoàn Độc lập Việt Nam] (2006), the United Workers-Farmers Organization of Vietnam [Hiệp hội Đoàn kết Công-Nông Việt Nam] (2006), and the Vietnamese Labor Movement [Phong trào Lao động Việt] (2008).

The leaders of these organizations were harshly suppressed, with the imprisonment of lawyer Le Thi Cong Nhan of the Independent Vietnamese Trade Union and three labor right activists Doan Huy Chuong, Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung and Do Thi Minh Hanh of the Vietnamese Labor Movement. So these three organizations came together to form the FVL at its first Convention held in Bangkok, Thailand, on 17 January 2014.

The statement said the FVL now decided to “bring into the open the existence of the FVL as one among the civil society community in Vietnam which is meant to protect the legitimate rights of Vietnamese workers–rights which up to now are being neglected.”

Its representatives, including Chairman Tran Ngoc Thanh, Vice Chair Le Thi Cong Nhan, and Spokeman Doan Huy, also called on the Vietnamese government to “release at once and unconditionally the labor activists currently in jail in Vietnam, specifically Doan Huy Chuong, Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung and Do Thi Minh Hanh.”

The statement came four days after a meeting held in Saigon on June 5 between 16 civil society organizations (CSOs), where participants discussed Vietnam’s human rights issues and highlighted the need for an authentic labor union in the light of rising riots and strikes in the country.

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