On Jun 4, 2015, at 3:38 PM, Hollis Stewart wrote:

Helena,

I have started reading your blog and will respond to the observations and questions that you present.  Just below is the address for the blog that Leanna and I published while we were in Vietnam.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did in preparing it.  We did not write too much about the classroom experience but more about our general experience.

One quick thought.  While in Viet Nam we talked here and there about the strikes that are referred to as “wildcat” strikes and my take is that yes there is some lack of trust or adherence to the law and the VGCL but on the other hand I saw it as important that working people at the local level would take things into their own hands and call out a strike and stay with it until they won.  And from what we heard as well as readings it seems as though the strikes are quite effective because the government and the party as well as the VGCL are committed to the working class so when they intervene the workers almost always win.

This fact is not liked by the foreign investment corporations, which would like to put down the strikers.  Often strikes are about employers mistreating employees, disrespecting them, which is a serious offense to the Vietnamese workers who view their nation as an extension of themselves and their sacrifice in the national war of liberation against colonialism, not paying their social security taxes or in other ways ignoring the National Labor law and/or the National Labor Code; and try to hike profits by not being honest.  Part of the work at TDT by their permanent home staff is educating the workers of Viet Nam to form unions, use their unions and hopefully resolve issues without strikes since the nation is aiming for harmony, stability, and progress.

Part of the problem is that foreign investment businesses are still sort of new and a growing part of the economy and dealing with them is a somewhat new experience for the VGCL and the union movement.  The present union movement got going with the Red Union in about 1929/30 and was part of the liberation experience and after the triumph of the revolution the main economic structure was the State Owned Enterprise and they are still a large part of the economy — and the union within the SOE’s was and is different.

Just so you know, Leanna may have a much different view on all this and each viewpoint is important since we are dealing with human society and we all know how variable that is in the real world.

http://ourvietnamexperience.blogspot.com/