Dispute Resolution in Viet Nam – A Rapid Diagnosis

This working paper analyses the policies, practices, and the viewpoints of actors, on dispute settlement in Viet Nam. The paper refers to relevant international labour standards of the ILO and draws on good practices from other countries in the Asia-Pacific region in order to shape recommendations that are suited to Viet Nam’s current context and its future development. The research for this paper was carried out through a collaboration between the ILO New Industrial Relations Project (funded by the USDOL) and the Department of Industrial Relations and Wages of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

Since “Doi Moi” began in 1986, the country has experienced rapid industrialisation and of international integration for development. Such changes have raised a number of challenges and expectations in the world of work in Viet Nam, including the application of new technologies, demands for different work patterns, the growth in FDI and demands for more skilled workers or (from workers) a greater share of the gains of production. These have sometimes contributed to strained labour relations and wildcat strikes.

In addition to a range of practical issues identified by users of the current dispute resolution system, this paper points to some characteristics that are not in alignment with ILO Conventions No. 87 and No. 98. As an ILO Member State, and bearing in mind Viet Nam’s intention to ratify these Conventions in the near future with consequential changes in industrial relation structures and practices, the reformed system will need to be designed with these Conventions in mind.

The paper provides a description of how a more effective dispute settlement system could be designed legally and institutionally for effective operation in Viet Nam, recommending the establishment of an authoritative labour disputes resolution institution. Within this, recommendations include a focus on professionalization of the Labour Arbitration Councils, and giving arbitrators the power to make binding orders in unfair labour practices cases.