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					                                        Country report
                                 Trade union training course
                     on occupational safety and health and the environment

                                       Pham Van Hai,
                           Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour

                         Impact of globalisation
            On osh and current trade union agenda in vietnam

        Viet Nam is undergoing the period of industrialisation and modernisation in the time
globalisation spreading throught the world, affecting on the life of whole society including workers.

1. Positive impact

        During 15 years of renovation, Viet Nam has big changes in all fields of activities. economic
growth rate achieved 7% in average; GDP for capita in 2000 was 430 USD. Agriculture is one of
sectors has big success, turning Viet Nam into leading countries to export rice. Programme of clean
water and clean environment has been implemented widely and got some good results. In 2000, 60%
population can have clean water to use. The percentage of poor rate has been reduced to 17 %. To
adapt to the process of globalisation, Viet Nam has to reduce the number of enterprises for the better
management: 1989-1990, there were 12,000, now reduced to 5,800. Number of memberships of trade
union also decreased, from 2,400,000 (1989) to 1,700,000 ( 1999). However, sectors of non-state are
growing rapidly. Now, there are 37,800 enterprises, which attracted more than 2,800,000 workers,
among them, female account for 46%. In enterprises with foreign investment, there are about 300,000
workers, More than 170,000 work in other services such as: tourism, hotel, restaurant etc.
         Technology transfer and foreign investment contribute greatly to the economic growth and
improve considerably working conditions.
             The number of workers has opportunity to work in good condition: comfort
                temperature and humidity, clean air, sufficient lighting and less noise.
             Many processes are operated automatically or needed very little action from workers,
                especially places, where there is high potential of danger or high toxic or dust level.
             High-tech also helps workers to have high productivity; therefore they can get higher
             Most of newly constructed factories are located in the industrial parks, where the
                infrastructure is rather good, such as: clean water, baton or asphalt road, wastewater
                and solid waste collection and treatment. It contributes to the better view and
                environmental protection.

2. Negative impact

         However, industrialisation and mordernisation also make considerable problems.
         Firstly, automation could result in jobless for number of workers, especially those who have
low level of education and skill. Rate of unemployment might be high.
          Secondly, the equipment and machinery imported from European countries most of them not
suit to the anthropometry, psycho-physiology and ergonomic figures of Vietnamese. During operation
time, they often have uncorrected postures, which result in pain in some parts of the body.

       Thirdly, many processes of production are monotonous operations, for example, working in
assembly lines or on sewing machines. High rate of work requires high attention while repeated
operation makes workers bored. These characteristics of work make workers exhausted when going
home. They feel very tired after finishing the shift.

        Fourthly, there is potential of arising new occupational diseases. This conclusion drawn from
researches of National Institute of Labour Protection when its staff conducted hundred of studies in
enterprises with new technology. These problems could be associated with workers exposed to new
chemicals, ionised radiation or working in enclosed artificial environment.
        Finally, due to lack of knowledge for selection of technology, and also from thinking of
saving some money, many out-of-date or obsolete technologies have been imported. These equipment
and machines not only give low quality of product, high energy consumption but also big potential of
environmental pollution and increased risk of accident at work and occupational illnesses and diseases.

3. Priority issues for our union at this moment

    i.      To raise awareness, responsibility and understandings of management of all levels to
            occupational safety and health issues, organising promotion and training OSH for all
            people so that they can understand and implement the laws, regulation and rules
            concerning OSH
    ii.     To find out effective measures to collect statistic data of accidents and occupational
            diseases with accuracy
    iii.    To find out appropriate scientific, technological and medical measures for improving
            working conditions and environment, preventing accidents and occupational diseases, to
            make best effort to reduce high rate of accident at work such as: high falling, electric
            shock, collapsed mines, misuse of pesticides etc. especially, reduced number of silicosis
            because this is leading disease in the list of occupational diseases in Viet Nam.
    iv.     To implement better recruitment medical examination. Periodical health check and
            diagnosis to identify early symptoms of occupational disease
    v.      To make a progressive advance in OSH management and inspection systems, ensuring its
            efficiency and flexibility while raising the responsibility and collaboration of
            governmental agencies, industries and trade unions at all levels

4. National Institute of Labour Protection (NILP)

    NILP is the one of leading organisations responsible for OSHE in Viet Nam. Main tasks of NILP
           - To conduct the research on science and technology of OSH entrusted by the
           - To undertake the task assigned by Viet Nam General confederation of Labour
                (VGCL), such as: taking part in formulation of policies, regulation and legal
                documentation concerning on OSH, applying measures of organisation, management
                and guidance of OSH within trade union system
           - To provide information, consultation, promotion and training of OSH for managers,
                employers and employees.
           - To undertake services and international co-operation on science and technology of
                OSH and environmental protection in accordance with the governmental regulations.

5. OSHE situation at workplaces

    5.1 Working condition
    Table below shows the status of working condition in different economic sectors

                                                     Working Condition (%)
        Type of Enterprises             Good        Appropriate     Bad           Very Bad
  State (Central Management)             53             33           11               3
  State (Provincial Management)          30             48           17               5
  Private                                20             49           20              11
  Co. Ltd                                19             59           13               9
  Cooperation’s                          20             52           20               8
  Join-Venture                           51             47            2               0
  With 100% foreign invested             77             23            0               0

Source: ministry of health,1998

         3.2. Accidents at work:
By law, all accidents which caused an absence from work of 14 days or more should be reported and
make record. In fact, many accidents were not reported, especially accidents among the self-employed
and non-state enterprises. The figure of accidents which was reported to VGCL and other
governmental agencies is far from actual situation.
- In order to have a clearer picture of situation on accidents at work NILP has conducted direct
investigation with a lager rank of the workers in numerous enterprises of some industries.
Fatal accidents in years

      Year          1990    1991    1992    1993    1994    1995      1996      1997       1998       1999   2000

  No of Cases       269     199      213     204     197     233       225       320        314       381    368

   Number of        290     214      225     231     207     256       289       402        365       441    403
For the past 5 years NILP has started to conduct a statistics data of fatal accidents in joint venture
enterprises with foreign invested capital. It accounts for about 5 - 6% of total of all fatal accidents in

         5.3 Occupational diseases
According to data of National Institute of Medical Expertise, Vietnam, from 1977 (when the list of
occupational diseases insured by State was approved) to December, 1999 in the whole country 10,996
persons who suffered from occupational diseases have been recognized. Among them, silicosis and
noise-induced hearing loss recorded highest rate, occupy 80% and 14,9% respectively. Among persons
suffered from occupational diseases, percentage of persons received monthly compensation accounts
for 30 - 35%, the rest about 65 - 70% received compensation in one time.

6. OSH situation for female in agriculture

According to investigation of ministry of health, female in agriculture account for 53-55% of labour
force. Their working time is about 8-15 hours /day. Percentage of female using pesticide spray is
42.5%. Many female spray pesticide when they are pregnant or milk feeding. Most of them are not
medical checked. Accident rate among female labourers is rather high: 105/10,000 people. This figure
is higher than reported 10 times.

                      OSHE situation and agenda for trade union

1. Structure of Vietnamese Trade Unions:

The Vietnamese Trade Unions are organized into 2 systems based on geographical location and
industrial basis:
+ Geographically, it has 61 Provincial Federations of Labour in 61 provinces.
+ Industrially, it has 17 National Industrial Unions and Public Sector Union — totally 18 National
branches of Trade Union.
The Vietnamese Trade Unions are organized into 4 levels:
   i. Central level: Vietnam General Confederation of Labour
   ii. Provincial and industrial level: 61 Provincial and city Federations of Labour and 18 National
   branches Unions
   iii. District level : 459 Federations of Labour and 68 General Company Unions.
   iv. Grassroots level : 47,200 Unions (41,517 from state sector and 5,694 from private sector).

2. OSHE network in Viet Nam

In Viet Nam, OSHE under control of the following organisation:
2.1 Ministry of Labour, war invalid and social affair (MOLISA).
In this ministry there are 3 sections involved with OSH, they are:
       Safety Inspection Department. It govern the local safety inspection officers in 61 provinces
        that carry out inspection, work-related accident investigation, giving licenses for using
        machines, equipment requiring a high degree of safety.
       Labour protection department, which formulates policies, legal documents and standards on
        labour protection
       Center for technical safety registration
2.2 Ministry of Health (MOH).
This ministry has two sections involved OSH:
       Preventive Medicine Department. It manages occupational hygienic inspection system, that is
        a part of preventive medicine centres in 61 provinces and cities and formulates legal
        documents, standards related occupational hygiene
       Institute of occupational health and environment. It specialises on research of occupational
2.3 Ministry of Science-Technology and Environment (MoSTE).
 In this ministry, a National Environment Agency is in charge of managing all issues relating with
environment, including nation-wide network of monitoring on environment
2.4 Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL).
Under control of VGCL, there are the following sections, which involve with OSH:
       National Institute of Labour Protection, that its functions have been mentioned above

       Labour Protection Review. In this review, reader can find the policy of VGCL on the OSH,
        the result of researches of labour protection or news of experiences on OSH from overseas.
        This is monthly publication.
         University of trade union. The university educates engineers including those of OSH. The first
          enrolment of the university was in 1994 and the first engineer of OSH graduated in 1997. To
          now, 337 engineers have been graduated and they work in various economic sectors through
          the country.
One of the functions of NILP is to guide and inspect OSH in its network which includes provincial,
district, industrial and enterprise unions.

2. Systematic training programme on OSHE

Training has significant role in enhancing awareness of OSH for people in all levels of activities. In
2000, 1612 courses were held on OSH, to which participated more than 377,703 people. The courses
are organised for the following participants:
     For manager level
        The course often last 5 to 7 days. The content of the course includes: issue of OSH, planning
        OSH, organising and managing OSH network, making statistic and investigating accident at
        work and occupational diseases, social insurance etc.
     For trade union officers
     The content of the course similar to those for manager, except issues concerning trade union
     Training for trainer
     The course designed to supplement the shortage of lecturer on OSH, especially for training at
    enterprises. The course lasts 2-3 days, helping trainers to update knowledge and information on
     For technical and professional officers on OSH
     The course is similar to those for manager and trade union officials
     For new recruit or changed job workers
     The 3-day course in which 2 days participants learn basic knowledge of OSH, 1 day they listen to
    their on-line mananger about hazards to which they expose and how to avoid or protect
     Retrained course
     This one- day course for those, who work regularly at the enterprise. The course organised by
    OSH officer of enterprise. Content of the course is to evaluate OSH activity of the enterprise,
    analyse courses of accidents or occupational illness to draw the lesson , after that the mananger
    provide the test to check their gained knowledge.

Depending on particular problem arising in the year, adding topic could be very specific, for example:
training on silicosis prevention or safety from high falling in construction site. For the last few years,
many courses on silicosis have been organised in various part of the country.
Lecturers were invited from different research organisation or university.

3. Major organisational problems in the area of OSHE

       Many legislative documents have not been relevant, especially those concerning with state and
        non – state economic sectors, especially the requirement of safe and healthy workplace often
        not comply in non state sector, private companies.
       Stipulation of Report on accident and occupational illness or disease is not clear. For example,
        report on accident directed to local department of labour, not to medical or trade union
        organization, so it causes difficult for statistics of accident, resulting in over lapsing or missing
        data. Moreover, much accident happened in private enterprise often not reported to avoid
        investigation of functioning organs.

   Existing of two inspection systems makes inconvenient for enterprises because of too many
    inspections from different agencies. Inspection systems in Viet Nam belong to different
    organizations. Safety inspection responsible by ministry of Labour, war invalid and social
    affair while occupational health inspection belongs to ministry of health. From 1996, there
    was suggestion to establish a OSH committee and unify two inspection system into one under
    control of this committee.
   Awareness of the importance of OSH among employers and managers is not good. The issues
    of OSH often step down for production. Very few bosses consider OSH is as important as
   In some joint venture or 100% invested by foreign capital, there is not trade union
    organization or some have it but they do not implement well their responsibility, which
    protects the interests of workers.