Vietnamese lawmakers remain insistent workers should work less

By Hoang Thuy   October 3, 2019 | 11:08 pm PT
The business sector's working week should be reduced from 48 to 44 hours to match government departments, lawmakers said.
A woman works at a garment factory in Thai Binh Province, northern Vietnam, June 13, 2019. Photo by Reuters/Kham.

A woman works at a garment factory in Thai Binh Province, northern Vietnam, June 13, 2019. Photo by Reuters/Kham.

Bui Van Cuong, a former chairman of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, said it is unfair that employees in the business sector work 48 hours a week while their counterparts in government only work 40.

If the former’s working hours are reduced to 44, they could take Saturday afternoon and Sunday off to take care of their family and health besides reducing the inequality, he said at a meeting held by the National Assembly’s Committee on Social Affairs Wednesday to discuss proposed amendments to the Labor Code.

"We can’t let the business sector work its finger to the bone while the administrative sector has it easy," Cuong said.

Luu Binh Nhuong, deputy head of the Committee for People’s Aspirations, citing a report that said 30 percent of government officials "do nothing at work," said: "Many officials are too casual and irresponsible, but somehow we are trying to extend the working hours of people who do laborious jobs. The National Assembly should stand up for the weak."

Truong Anh Tuan, a delegate from the northern Nam Dinh Province, said however that support from the business sector for shrinking the working week is not unanimous since people have mouths to feed.

"[Workers] say their salaries depend on either the volume of products they make or the number of hours they work. So if the law reduces their working hours, they say they would starve."

Some construction workers said they would have to be available anytime their employers asked them to.

"Reducing the working hours for workers [in the business sector] now is not very appropriate."

Many companies have also disagreed with the proposed cut to the weekly working hours, saying the move would only create more difficulties like the need to recruit new staff and reduce competitiveness.

In an online survey done last month by the confederation, 81 percent of around 1,300 workers voted to cut the working hours to 44 hours.

The proposed amendment will be discussed again on October 21.

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