Vietnam Workers Granted Full Labor Rights Thanks To Pacific Trade Deal

Full details finally revealed.

Vietnam has finally agreed to grant labor rights to their workers, according to the full text of the Pacific Rim free-trade accord released early Thursday by the White House. This agreement marks an incredible transformation in the relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam.

The bilateral deal is the first major labor victory in decades for Vietnam, which is still ruled by the Communist Party. As part of the agreement, Vietnam is required to form new legislation that would grant their workers the right to unionize and collectively bargain. 

The workers will be allowed to strike over wages, hours and working conditions.

"Without reservation, I think this is the best opportunity we've had in years to encourage deep institutional reform in Vietnam that will advance human rights, and it will only happen if T.P.P. is approved," Tom Malinowski, the assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, said in The New York Times.

As part of this landmark deal, Vietnam agreed to end child labor, forced labor and employment discrimination. Workers will also receive minimum wages for hours worked and intellectual property agreements. All of the measures are expected to empower workers and their newly formed labor organizations.

Previous attempts by Vietnamese workers to form unions have resulted in the arrest of labor activists. One Vietnamese woman spent four years imprisoned for distributing pro-labor leaflets to factory workers.

To ensure that Vietnam complies with these new labor requirements, the U.S. will lead a group of experts from the International Labor Organizations to monitor the situation and perform reviews.

As part of the Pacific Rim free-trade accord, the U.S. has agreed to end tariffs and other trade barriers. If Vietnam fails to comply with the new labor standards, then the U.S. reserves the right to terminate the trade benefits.

(H/T: New York Times)

Cover image via iStock