The Vietnamese government, more specific its ministry of labor, war invalids and social affairs, kicked off a campaign last week in Ho Chi Minh City to carry out major inspections of garment factories, to be completed by October. The nationwide inspections will cover 150 garment factories in 12 cities and provinces by October and will focus on working conditions and labour safety, specifically overtime work, salaries and allowances, safety equipment, emergency exits, electricity risks, work environment and plans and training for labor safety, according to Thanhnien News.

"Earlier inspections found that most FDI enterprises follow relevant regulations while many others do not have safe working environment. Common violations include lack of periodic medical check-ups for workers and lack of emergency exits", said Tran Ngoc Son, deputy director of Ho Chi Minh City's department of labor, war invalids and social affairs.

"There are some factories with more than 5,000 workers but only five toilets", added Phan Dang Tho, the ministry's deputy chief inspector, stressing that companies in the sector need to improve working conditions. Common shortcuts are skipping medical check-ups though many workers’ health detiriorates over the years. The Ministry is aiming for a greater involvement of the trade unions as well as employers in the inspection process.

Child labour is also an issue that will be looked at confirmed Nguyen Phi Ho of the HCMC labour union. According to ILO findings, 1.75 million Vietnamese children work, which is almost 10 percent of those between the ages of 5 and 17. Three in five of them are between 15 and 17 years old, and almost 85 of them live in rural areas.

Vietnam's garment sector consists of around 6,000 garment factories and employs 2.5 million workers, accounting for 25 percent of all factory workers. The sector contributes over 13 percent to the country's total export revenue and more than 10 percent to its gross domestic product.

 

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