Vietnam’s Working Condition

The country of Vietnam holds an extremely progressive national labor law which is specifically aimed to regulate working conditions. One of the major challenges is about ensuring that the labor law is being appropriately and properly implemented.

The great visibility of Nike Inc., which recently considered Vietnam as an important site to outsource its production, created huge controversy in the United States, particularly among activists labor rights advocates like the Workers’ Rights Consortium. Claims of factory conditions and negligible pay were lodged by a number of journalists.

Apparently, Nike’s forceful and innovative marketing strategy has enabled the company to expand its production to a country that really needs expanded job opportunities. Unfortunately, Nike’s Korean and Taiwanese subcontractors producing for the giant footwear company in Vietnam were guilty in a number of cases of abuses and labor law violations. Senior employees found guilty of such labor abuses and violations were deported.

Although salaries in Vietnam’s garment, textile and footwear industries are very low using U.S. standards, such additional income is commonly pooled in an extended family framework and contributes significantly to the economic welfare of families. Having such companies like Nike active, the country was able to export US $1.4 billion worth of footwear overseas in 1998.

Meanwhile, for those who are unable to find formal employment in Vietnam, they may opt to seek income-generating activities in the informal sector. Working conditions in the informal sector differ rather greatly, depending on the activity involved. Several informal sector jobs give employees and other individuals with way more freedom and independence than if they were in a formal sector. In some cases, work in the informal sector can be rather humiliating like those involved in pleading tourists to buy their souvenirs and the likes.

Unfortunately, for some undereducated or unemployed women, since the rise of illegal commercial sex industry in the country, they became vulnerable to the industry. As a result, about 100,000 Vietnamese have now incurred HIV / AIDS.

Lei Hoang


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