More than 90 years ago, the Red Workers’ General Union in Northern Vietnam – the predecessor of the Vietnam General Confederation of Union – was established in connection with the coming into being of the Communist Party of Indochina in Hanoi. The founding of an organisation representing working people was an important result of the propagation of Marxism-Leninism and the policies of leader Nguyen Ai Quoc and the Communist Party of Indochina among the working class.
Immediately after the union’s birth, many of the first generation of workers in Vietnam, such as Ton Duc Thang – a mechanic, or Nguyen Duc Canh – a printing worker, laid the foundation for the development of the working class, gathered forces and thus becoming a reliable mainstay of the Party.
Following the glorious tradition, today’s Party members and heads of grassroots-level trade unions are performing a double task, striving to lead the way and set example in all aspects.
Even though the number of Party members in FDI enterprises is modest compared to the Party’s total membership of 5.2 million, each of them is a bright example of hard work and morality.
Every story of them is worth to study and multiply.
Building bilingual regulations in FDI enterprises
Building regulations on coordination between the Party cell in an enterprises and the management is an important task of the Party cell in order to ensure the leading role of the Party organisation and the trade union’s functions to represent workers in the enterprise and protect their legitimate rights and interests. This is particularly important in enterprises in which the State does not hold a dominating stake and foreign-invested enterprises.
The building of such regulations at enterprises where the managers are foreigners faces even more difficulties. The situation at Thanh Cong Textile Garment Investment Trading Joint Stock Company (TCG) is a typical example.
In 2006, the TGC, then a State-owned enterprise under the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group, was equitised, in which the State held a 40-percent stake. In 2009, the Eland group from the Republic of Korea became its strategic shareholder, holding a dominating stake and management rights. In 2012, all State capital in the company was divested. All members of the management are foreigners who had little knowledge about Vietnam’s policies and laws.
The change in operating environment from a State-owned enterprise to an FDI enterprise with foreign management was a difficult transition for the Party organisation in TGC.
Nguyen Huu Tuan, secretary of the Party cell and president of the trade union at TGC, recalled that despite sharing the goal of developing production and business and ensuring jobs and incomes for workers, the new management and the company’s Party organisation and workers had many differences in political ideas, culture and language, as well as working methods and styles. Those gaps greatly affected the operation of the Party organisation as well as other mass organisations in the company.
In that context, in order to reinstate its role, position and prestige, the Party cell took the initiative in building regulations for the coordination between the cell and the Board of Directors, the Director General; as well as between the Director General and the trade union’s leadership. The regulations were based on equality and cooperation for the legal and legitimate rights and interests of workers, Party members, and the company.
For the foreign management to understand the Party organisation and the trade union in Vietnam, the coordination regulations were written in two languages – English and Vietnamese – and were transferred to the management for consideration, then discussions were held to reach agreement before signing. Based on the regulations, the Party cell and the company management regularly discuss issues in management, and seek agreement in creating conditions for the Party cell, Party members, the trade union and workers to participate in building collective labour contracts, working contracts, benefits for workers.
Besides, during the Party cell’s regular activities, the company management are invited to attend and voice their opinions, and vice versa, the Party cell’s leadership are invited to attend major events of the company, thus creating consensus between the Party cell and the company management.
Holding regular activities under the Party flag in FDI enterprises
In 2013, Cao Van Tien Trang (born 1985, a worker at Nien Hsing Ltd Co in Ninh Binh province) was admitted to the Party organisation in his residential area. Following the instruction of the higher level Party organisation, Trang resolved to set up a Party cell at his working place. In 2014, a Party cell with 18 members was established at Nien Hsing company.
A question for Trang was how to ensure that the monthly Party cell’s meeting as required by Party regulations does not affect the company’s production process, as only then could the Party cell receive support from the company management while maintaining Party activities. The Party cell set the goal of using time efficiently.
“We agreed that two days before the Party cell’s meeting, the Party cell’s leadership would inform the company management, sections’ managers so that they can arrange working schedule to allow Party members to attend the meeting without affecting the production process,” Trang said.
Realising the positive effect of the Party cell’s activities, in 2018, the company management agreed to let the Party cell fix a regular schedule for meetings in the afternoon of the third day of every month.
In particular, the Party cell at Nein Hsing Ninh Binh has maintained a flag saluting ceremony accompanied by activities under the Party flag every Monday. The practice has been spread to other companies in the same industrial park.
Trang said, “ On the first Monday of a month, we hold a flag saluting ceremony for the entire workshop, followed by briefings on issues informed by the higher level Party organisation. On the remaining Mondays, we only hold a flag saluting ceremony. The national flag is hung in all sections.”
The Party cell has made great efforts to start and maintain the practice. At present, every Monday morning, all staff members of the company, including foreigners, solemnly attend the flag saluting ceremony.
The Party cell’s activities, including the regular flag saluting ceremony, have prompted many workers to strive to be admitted to the Party. The Party cell at the company has been upgraded to a Party organisation with 60 members.
Holding Party activities in workers’ style
The Party cell at the Kad Industrial SA Vietnam (Vina Kad), a 100 percent foreign owned company of the Republic of Korea, was among the first Party organisations set up in FDI enterprises in Da Nang in 2012.
Ho Si Tan, Secretary of the Party cell and president of the trade union at Vina Kad, shared that the Party cell attaches great importance to education and popularisation work in order to keep workers informed about guidelines and policies of the Party, State and trade union organisation, helping improve their awareness about their rights and the law.
However, the company management thought that the more workers understand about laws, the more difficult for the company in managing production and business, so they also cited a lack of time as the reason to refuse allocating time for the popularisation work.
To cope with the situation, Tan and other members in the Party cell and the company’s trade union leadership designed plans to hold popularisation activities outside working hours, pledging to the company management that such activities would not affect production. At the beginning, only few workers attended the activities, but through persuasion and efforts to renew the forms of popularisation, more workers were attracted and now 100 percent of workers in the company are eager to go to such events.
According to Tan, his Party cell now holds from 20-30 popularisation events each year, attracting more than 5,000 participants. This has become a regular work of the company with 100 percent of workers attending. It is noteworthy that after maintaining the activity for some time, the situation in the company has gradually changed for the better. The rate of workers violating company rules or absent from work has remarkably reduced.
“From a hotspot of strikes that caused social disorder, our company has become one of the leaders in production and business as well as in caring for workers and has been honoured by authorities and mass organisations every year,” Tan said.
The company management highly valued the role of the Party cell and trade union organisation in bringing about positive changes in the company, contributing to enhancing productivities and business results./.