As Vietnam scales the global value chain, what does it mean for its workers? | Melbourne Asia Review

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Almost four decades since Vietnam abandoned Marxist central planning in favour of market socialism, Vietnam is now well integrated in the global supply chain and is an important manufacturing hub for labour-intensive industries like textiles, electronics, and even automobiles. The economic expansion — powered by foreign investment and exports — has reshaped Vietnam’s labour market, creating higher-skilled jobs but also challenges like wage stagnation and worker abuse. For all the fanfare over investment dollars from the likes of Apple, Samsung, and Intel — as well as a host of Chinese companies — there are signs that the welfare of workers, both in terms of pay and working conditions, is far from a top priority. Meanwhile, restrictive policies around unionisation and dissent have served to hamper labour advocacy. So how to make sense of an uneven labour landscape overseen by a Communist party with long ties to workers? What can be done to ensure Vietnam’s workers truly benefit from the country’s hard-won place in the global value chain? And what can policymakers, businesses and civil society actors do better to protect the very people who underpin Vietnam’s economic future? Vietnam labour experts Prof Angie Tran from California State University Monterey Bay and Dr Tu Nguyen from the Asia Institute, University of Melbourne examine the often fraught labour relations in Vietnam with host Sami Shah.

An Asia Institute podcast. Produced and edited by Music by Transcript here.

Further Reading
Angie Tran
Ethnic Descent and Empowerment: Economic Migration Between Vietnam and Malaysia

Tu Nguyen
Law and Precarity Legal Consciousness and Daily Survival in Vietnam

Main image: Prof Angie Tran and Dr Tu Nugyen. Photo of Prof Tran by Joe Lubow. Listing image: Eland Long An Factory in Vietnam/ILO Asia Pacific.