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Plan for more public holidays draws mixed opinions

By Doan Loan   September 19, 2019 | 03:00 am PT
Plan for more public holidays draws mixed opinions
Laborers work at a garment factory in Thai Binh Province, northern Vietnam, June 13, 2019. Photo by Reuters/Kham.
Labor experts fear the national trade union's proposal to add three days to the public holiday calendar would affect nation's competitiveness.

The Vietnam General Confederation of Labor said Tuesday it wanted to add three days to the public holiday calendar, proposing two options for how it could be done.

One option would be to extend the Independence Day holiday on September 2 by three more days until September 5, the day a new school year starts in Vietnam. The second option would be to have a three-day break for the New Year (January 1-3), and to declare the Vietnamese Family Day on June 28 as a public holiday.

Ngo Duy Hieu, deputy head of the confederation, said a large number of Vietnamese workers are migrants from rural areas who need to travel back home, so having three more holidays would help greatly.

While backing the need for more holidays, labor expert Ha Dinh Bon said the extended holiday should be just one day instead of three.

"Every time the National Assembly adjusts the number of holidays, they only consider adding one more day so not to cause disturbances that affect the economy and society," Bon said.

Tran Quy Dan, chairman of May 10 textile Corporation's labor union comprising 12,000 workers, said the proposal was good news. She suggested that the additional days off be added to existing holidays, making it more convenient for workers to visit home or organize trips.

However, Dan warned that long breaks will affect export activities of businesses that depend on large workforces, like textile and footwear.

Vu Quang Tho, former director of the Institute of Vietnam Labor Union and Workers, said that the proposal would be beneficial for workers and needs to be encouraged because Vietnam's current number of public holidays was the lowest in the ASEAN region at 10.

However, Tho also said the majority of Vietnamese workers are low-income earners so many have the need to work extra hours. Additionally, more days off work means business owners will have to deal with increases in cost and reduced competitiveness.

"More days off helps workers recuperate and regain their health but will not increase labor productivity," said Tho.

Bui Sy Loi, Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly's Committee on Social Affairs, said the confederation must assess the socioecomic impacts of their proposal.

The confederation is set to submit the proposal for the extra holidays to the National Assembly next month to seek permission for it to be included in draft amendments to the Labor Code.

Vietnamese people now enjoy breaks on the New Year Day, the commemoration day of the Hung Kings (the nation's mythical founders) on the 10th of the third lunar month, the National Reunification Day on April 30, the Labor Day on May 1, the National Day of September 2, and the Tet or Lunar New Year holiday which normally lasts seven to nine days and includes one or two weekends.

In comparison, Cambodia enjoys a total of 28 public holidays, Brunei 15, Indonesia 16, and China 21.

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