Welcome to ILR CORNELL IN VIETNAM! Follow the ILR School's students during the winter break. ILRies will be joining students from Ton Duc Thang University in Ho Chi Minh City to learn about labor relations and arbitration in Vietnam. Together they will engage in a case study that will provide a greater understanding of conflict resolution and labor in the Vietnamese context. This program is sponsored ILR's Sheinman Institute and managed by ILR's International Programs.
Sunday, January 15, 2017
Strikes and a Simulation
January 11, 2017
We began today with a discussion of strikes, specifically the gaps between what the law stipulates for striking (it is technically legal), and what the strikes are like (illegal or wildcat strikes) due to the difficult, bureaucratic mechanisms for legal strikes. Hundreds of strikes can happen per year and occur over issues like wages, benefits, quality of food in the canteens or holiday bonuses. Usually, they don’t last longer than a few days and are resolved by ad hoc committees of local authorities, labor representatives, and management. Overall, our discussions with speakers from the VGCL, USAID, and other groups have enhanced our understanding of strikes as compared to when we first arrived.
During the afternoon, we joined up our TDTU student peers to do a mock grievance negotiation. We split into three teams, with a union and management side, and sought a resolution for a worker who was discharged. The worker had refused to work on his machine until it was properly inspected for safety, following another worker accident. We helped each other understand the case on our respective teams, and then came up with a list of key demands we would negotiate for. The air in the room grew tense once the negotiation started – both sides felt certain their views were correct and often would get entrenched in their position nearly to the point of impasse. With some prompting, however, all of the teams were able to reach a solution after a tough, spirited hour of negotiation, and we were surprised to learn how different many of our final negotiations were. It was a great way to bond with our students and share some of what we had learned in collective bargaining back in Ithaca.
An agreement is reached
That evening, we decided to head down to the Bitexco tower, which rises imposingly over the skyline, a sleek, lotus-bud shaped monolith that boasts a sky deck and helipad on its upper floors. The views of the city were breathtaking, glittering lights and churning motorways spreading out below us. There’s nothing to prompt reflection quite like literally zooming out on where you are, and we mused over the possibilities of moving to places like Saigon after we graduate.
We finished the night with bun bo hue (a famous beef noodle soup from Hue) and collapsed exhausted into bed. -Allison