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Cutting the 48 hour work week back in the news in Vietnam

Overtures have been made by the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour–the VGLC–to the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs to reduce standard working hours below the current 48 hours a week. This was announced back in January, however, in recent weeks the idea has gained traction with local media carrying a number of variations of the story.

It’s not clear why this has become an issue now, however, labour policy of late has tended to favour businesses amidst a broad economic down turn. Notably, there was no minimum wage hike last year or in 2021 yet inflation has averaged about 4 percent. In this light, with signs of an economic recovery on the horizon, the time may be seen as apt to talk about labour reforms.

That said, it has been reported that Vietnam is set to ratify the International Labor Organization’s Convention 87 which wold give workers the right to unionise independent of the VGLC. This has also been in the media of late after a submission to the US Department of Commerce that alleged the government of Vietnam did not intend to abide by Convention 87 even once ratified. In this context, it could also be that the VGLC is looking to assert its relevance. 

Of note, resolution 101/2019/QH14, which is the guiding document for approaching a reduction in work hours in Vietnam, actually only assigns the government the task of proposing reducing workers hours to under 48 hours per week at an appropriate time. It does not guarantee a change.

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