Nguyen Tien Tung, chief inspector at the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said they had sent two teams to inspect Samsung's factories in Bac Ninh and Thai Nguyen provinces.

He concluded that Samsung Vietnam had basically followed all regulations on labour contracts, working environment, regular health check-ups, wages and bonuses.

However, both factories have wrongdoings concerning working hours. There are two shifts from 8 am to 8 pm, and then from 8 pm to 8 am.

Workers have two days off after working for four consecutive days. Workers normally work 70 hours a week.

Meanwhile, the Labour Law 2012 stated that the maximum working time is eight hours a day, 48 hours a week and the night shift working time is from 10 pm to 6 am. Extra shift working time must not exceed 30 hours a month.

"We have asked Samsung Vietnam to follow the law," Tung said.

In addition, several terms in the labour contracts were not in accordance with the law and Samsung factory in Bac Ninh Province did not properly train workers about occupational safety and health issues.

The ministry gave a warning and demanded Samsung Vietnam to address the problems within 60 days. Tung said wrongdoings at Samsung Vietnam were not severe enough to be fined.

He went on to say that export companies sometimes have to increase extra shifts to meet orders and have very little work at other times so the inspectors should be flexible.

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs also started an occupational safety and health inspection campaign this year at electronic manufacturing and assembling sector. The results are being reviewed and will be announced this December.

Tung claimed that the average number of wrongdoings detected at those factories were 10 to 12 while only three were detected at Samsung Vietnam. Vietnam does not have any research about occupational illnesses in these plants but the inspectors would review this issue and propose solutions.

There are over 100,000 labourers working at Samsung Vietnam and it contributes over 20% of Vietnam's exports.

In the recent survey by IPEN and Vietnam's Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development, it is reported that miscarriage were frequent occurrences among Samsung workers because they are overworked while standing and will have their salary cut if they take a break.

They also have many health problems relating to eyesight, gastrointestinal disorders and leg pains.

Dantri International - November 27, 2017