Hanoi Conversations (3, VTUU)

VTUU Vietnam Trade Union University

I appear to have lost my photos of the VTUU meeting on Tuesday, Jan 12. I will take some more when we’re up in Hanoi after Feb 1

Kent opened by referring to a conference that brought together TDTU, the TUU, and ULSA at the beginning of the partnership among the Labor Universities. We were then introduced to Sister Sung, Head of Organizing and a Deputy Director, Mr. Hoa, head of the Training Department; Miss Ha, Deputy Head of the International Department; Sister Lien and Mr. Tao, Deputy Head of Scientific Research Department. Apologies to those whose names I missed or got wrong.

Dr Phan Van Ha, Principal, spoke.

The VTUU was founded in 1946. It is thus celebrating its 70th anniversary. In the beginning, it only offered training for trade union officials. Then in 1952 it added a BA for students. So today it has two tasks: one, to train trade union officials, and two, to train students in the work of trade unionism. It is under the VGCL but also the MET, the Ministry of Education and Training. Every year they get a plan from the VGCL and and other one from MET for students to prepare them to take their role on society. At present they have a total of 12,000 students, including both trade union officials and BA students. Every year 12,000 – 16,000 people apply but they only take 2,000. About 1,800 students stay in the dorms; that’s all the room there is. The dorms are for non-residents, students from outside Hanoi. The other 200 have to rent a room somewhere. They have another facility under construction about 30 K away.

There are about 300 teachers. They still lack trainers and teachers. They have 9 departments. Trade Unions, Banking, Accounting, Law, HR, Business Administration, Social Work, Sociology and Industrial Relations. Their Law program trains on the Labor law, Labor Code and IR. Law has the highest enrollment, over 1,000.

The IR Department opened last year. It came out of the 2007 Committee on Industrial Relations. A lot of students registered to study this field. Training to meet the requirements of a market economy is very different. There is a high need for people to understand IR. They use materials from the ILO and other countries, collective bargaining and social dialog, but also grassroots organizing, collective bargaining skills, CBA’s, mutual benefit arrangements, harmonious industrial relations at the workplace.

They have relationships with other universities in Russia, China, Belorussse and Ukraine (these may be specific Research Institutes). They have an exchange of teachers: Two years here, two years there. In the future, they’re looking to enroll foreign language students. They would like to have the kind of cooperation agreement that is at TDTU. They have sent people to Germany, Italy and Thailand. They teach students from Laos and Cambodia, through the Laotian and Cambodian unions, like the VGCL.

They used to recruit workers to teach them to become union leaders, but now they only teach people who are already officials. This is because sometimes their students didn’t become officials, they would go do another job and it was felt to be a waste of money. TUU sends information about trainings to the District, Provincial and grassroots unions, and if they have people who are interested, they send them.

Questions are about how the curriculum has changed to adapt to new circumstances; what a bottom-up curriculum looks like; what the impact of TPP will be. “There will be competition in trade union activities. Workers will have the right to choose their union leaders. We are members of the ILO. When the union is effective, it will attract workers.”

Emil asks about the term “harmonious.” The Principal responds that the contradiction between corporations and workers always exist. “Some corporations only care abut profit. But if a corporation only cares about profit, it will not be stable, and that will be bad for profit. Harmony is necessary. If harmony dies, the enterprise will also not exist and the workers will lose their jobs.”

They ask questions about who pays union representatives and say they are interested in our materials. There is a brief conversation about language; “We speak Russian,” says the Principal with a smile. I ask if they are familiar with Vygotsky and get a smile from the Training Director.

Published by helenaworthen

Labor educator, retired from University of Illinois, taught at TDT University in Ho Chi Minh City in the Faculty of Trade Unions and Labor Relations. Co-author with Joe Berry of Power Despite Precarity: Strategies for the contingent faculty movement in higher education, forthcoming (August 2021) from Pluto Press.

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