Social News 11/10

Workers block newly-opened road to get paid

Construction workers on the recently-completed Noi Bai-Lao Cai Highway recently blocked the road they built from traffic, forcing the project investor to ask their contractor to pay their employees.

Le Kim Thanh, deputy general director of Vietnam Expressway Corporation (VEC) the project investor, said the contractor responsible for the section in question is Vinaconex Corporation. He said, "We have asked Vinaconex to explain whether they had paid the salaries or not. If the contractor owes workers' salaries then by all means, they must pay the debt."

He went on to say that the workers had disturbed public order by gathering together to block the road. This action caused traffic problems and could potentially cause harms to drivers. The management board of Noi Bai-Lao Cai Highway has been maintaining a presence on the scene to deal with any problems.

On October 7, many people from Bao Thang District, Lao Cai Province brought clubs and sticks with them to block the road. The incident caused a one-hour traffic jam, which continued after VEC and Bao Thang District authorities promised to clear it up.

According to the workers, the issue is simple: they were hired to build the highway but have not been paid. They tried to contact their employer and claim their pay, but to no avail.

This is not the first such incident in recent past. Early this year, farmers in Vinh Phuc Province also blocked the Noi Bai-Lao Cai Highway because they were not satisfied with compensation rates for land and crops, which were affected by the construction process.

The Noi Bai-Lao Cai Highway is the biggest and longest highway project in Vietnam. The project was started in 2009 and has just been completed after five years of construction. The Noi Bai-Lao Cai Highway is part of a cooperation programme among six countries in the Mekong Sub-region, including Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and China.

HCM City running out of burial plots

Many older people in HCM City are having difficulty finding land for burial plots as urban sprawl takes up more and more area of the city.

There are a number of abandoned plots and orchards in the suburbs which people may be willing to sell for burial purposes. Some even bury their deceased relatives in their gardens despite a ban on the practice.

Tam, a 76-year-old resident of Hoc Mon District, said she has a number of illnesses such as diabetes and heart illnesses, so two years ago, she told her children to find a plot of land near the house. Despite their best efforts, however the children have been unable to find any suitable land.

"Either the land is being used or the owners are unwilling because of the ban on selling cemetery plots. The monks near my house said we would have to pay VND200 million (USD9,500) for grave inside the pagoda. The price is too high, so we're still looking. If they can't find anything, I suppose they'll take me to Da Phuoc Cemetery. It's far from home, but at least I won't be cremated," Tam said.

She refused to be cremated after the trauma of her mother's cremation 19 years ago. Tam said she felt sad and tormented at the time, thinking that her mother had to suffer the pain and the heat.

Thanh, another resident of HCM City, also said he was afraid of burning. His family has a very limited income but Thanh wishes for his body to be taken back to his hometown in Binh Dinh Province, despite the cost for the long trip.

Crowded residential areas present a huge problem for anyone wishing to be buried in the city. One man bought a 200 square metre piece of land as a family cemetery. But a few years later, houses and apartments surrounded the land.

When the family was holding a funeral ceremony last year, the residents living around the cemetery came out and complained. They were afraid of the environmental implications, and they were only able to bury their relative after the police were called to calm the situation.

Filling stations in city likely forced to issue receipts

Gas stations in HCMC may be compelled to install printers to issue receipts for customers in the coming time and only stations having those machines are allowed to continue business, the city’s Department of Science and Technology said.

The department has already test-used printers and will ask the city government to issue temporary standards on printing receipts pending formal regulations from the Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality.   

Sales receipts will include information on the amount of gasoline, the sum of money payable, date and time, which will be served as evidence to deal with a consumer complaint or inquiry.

The research team from the science department installed a peripheral device outside fuel dispensers.

The experiment showed the sum of money stated on receipts is equivalent to the number showed on the screen of the dispenser under the liter-based pumping method. However, there is a minor error of a maximum of VND500 under the random pumping method.

This error is acceptable as customers will benefit via rounding rules; however, oil and gas businesses expressed their concerns.

Pham The Hung, deputy director of Retail Petroleum Enterprise under Petrolimex Saigon, said his company previously bought fuel dispensers that could print receipts, but customers did not seem interested. The firm, therefore, cooperated with an agency in charge of receipt printing to issue those papers to customers in need.

However, clients have to wait for a while, thus causing some inconvenience.

Ton Quang Tri, deputy director of the HCMC Department of Industry and Trade, supported the plan but stressed that receipts must be recognized by the tax department as proof of transaction.

The city now has 517 gas stations with around 3,500 dispensers of 64 types.

It costs VND8 million to install a device on a fuel dispenser. In 2012, the science department conducted tests on receipt printing machines which link directly to the fuel dispenser’s control system at the cost of VND10 million each and received no interest from oil and gas businesses at the time.

The experiment on receipt printers this time is to implement the campaign of the city government to fight oil and gas trade fraud.

Taxi passengers to be given automatic receipts by 2015

* All taxicabs in HCMC will be installed with monitoring systems using GPS technology integrated with new taxi meters with receipt printers on the cabs by early next year, a move aimed to protect passengers from fraud committed by dishonest drivers.

The HCMC Department of Science and Technology last weekend introduced the equipment that connects the taxi meter and the printer. Tests conducted by some firms on their cabs showed positive results, and this solution is also appreciated by transport firms.

Huy Hoang Company, the partner of the standard, metrology and quality control division under the science and technology department, said the total cost for installing a system is VND9 million.

Taxi operators, however, thought that the price is so high, with Nguyen Hoang Hung, a representative of Mai Linh Taxi, suggesting lowering the price to VND7 million.

The taxi companies also noted that the system has to be easily connected and convenient for replacement and repair. They recommended the department take advantage of current taxi meters to cut cost.

The number of taxicabs in the city is estimated at 10,000 vehicles.

Decree 86/2014/ND/CP issued by the Government last month regulates that taxicabs have to be fitted with black boxes before July 1 next year and have receipt printers that are connected to taxi meters before July 1, 2016.

Mekong Delta provinces tackle climate change

In the Mekong Delta, Ca Mau, Kien Giang and An Giang provinces and Can Tho City have invested approximately 2.4 trillion VND (112.84 million USD) to build five major infrastructure development projects to tackle climate change from now to 2020.

Of the sum, over 1.8 trillion VND (84.60 million USD) came from the support programme to response to climate change in Vietnam, while the rest was from additional financial resources, according to the Steering Committee for Southwest region.

Ca Mau invested 922 billion VND (43.38 million USD) in erecting a 108km sea-dyke to prevent floods, whilst Can Tho allocated 808 billion VND (37.59 million USD) to building two embankments near Can Tho River’s banks.

Meanwhile, 224 billion VND (10.42 million USD) was used to construct the Kien River sewer in Kien Giang, preventing seawater intrusion and draining floods faster.

An Giang spent 469 billion VND (22.82 million USD) on building an embankment along the Hau River and a fresh-water lake which provides water for residents and acts as a water reservoir for forest fire protection.

Erosion has severely damaged the delta in recent years, especially in the four localities.

Scientists estimate that by the mid-21 st century, sea level rises will shrink large parts of the delta’s residential areas, and shorelines and riverbanks will be eroded rapidly.

Ministries join hands to control imbalanced sex ratio at birth

A cooperation programme was launched between the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) and the Ministry of Health (MoH) at an official ceremony in Hanoi on October 9 to promote gender equality and control sex imbalances at birth during the 2014-2020 period.

The programme is part of a campaign to accelerate the implementation of the National Strategy on Gender Equality for 2011-2020 and the Vietnam Population and Reproductive Health Strategy by 2020.

Several Asian countries, including Vietnam, are affected by the negative consequences of an imbalanced sex ratio.

The imbalance between male and female babies born is high in Vietnam, increasing to 113.8 boys per 100 girls in 2013 compared to 106.2 boys per 100 girls in 2000.

The trend is expected to continue, and if it is not reversed, Vietnam is likely to see 2.3 to 4.3 million men unable to find wives by 2050.

Scientific studies conducted in Asia and Vietnam show that the gender imbalance at birth is attributed to society’s preference for sons over daughters, which has a direct impact on family planning decisions.

It also will have extremely negative effects on the country’s future demographics.

Discrimination against women and girls is a violation of human rights. However, they continue to be undervalued, which is at the root of the skewed sex ratio at birth.

In recent years, MoLISA and MoH have enhanced their communication efforts and implemented relevant policy measures to ease the situation.

Their cooperation will contribute to efforts to increase awareness of the issue and boost the implementation of policies and legal regulations on gender equality, thus controlling gender imbalance at birth.

As part of the programme, the two ministries will work together to research, develop and implement measures and policies on gender equality. Communication and education models will also be designed and put in place to raise public awareness of the issue.  

Additionally, pilot models to promote gender equality will be set up in provinces and cities where the sex ratio at birth is the most distorted.

Nothern provinces respond to Global Handwashing Day

The Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU) in the northern mountainous provinces organized a celebration in response to Global Handwashing Day (GHD) in Lao Cai province on October 9.

At the ceremony, Vice Chairman of Lao Cai provincial People’s Committee Vu Xuan Cuong said the event helps raise public awareness of the need to wash hand with soap so as to prevent infectious diseases and protect the community’s health.

October 15 is annually observed as GHD aiming to encourage millions around the globe to protect their health by washing their hands with soap.

Hanoi hosts SHAPE Asia-Pacific 2014 workshop

Global Shapers Community-Hanoi Hub in coordination with the World Economic Forum on October 9 held a press conference regarding the upcoming SHAPE Asia-Pacific 2014 workshop in Hanoi.

The workshop themed “Fostering the Growth of Social Entrepreneur (SE) Space in the region" will be organized in the lead up to the 60th anniversary of Hanoi’s Liberation Day (October 10) and aims to improve attendees’ skills dealing with environmental and social problems relating to economic growth in the region.

It has garnered the participation of many leading and well-known organizations and businesses in the region such as CSIP, SPARK, CIEM, TOPICA and Coca Cola and over 100 young leaders who are members of the Global Shaper Community from 42 big cities in Asia-Pacific region.

The workshop is set to take place on October 11-12.

The Global Shapers Community is a network of hubs developed and led by young people who are exceptional in their potential, their achievements and their drive to make a contribution to their communities.

UNICEF commits more childcare support in Vietnam

The United Nations' Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) jointly held a seminar in Hanoi on October 9 to discuss child-related issues in the 2016-2020 period.

MPI Deputy Minister Dao Quang Thu and UNICEF Deputy Chief Representative in Vietnam Jesper Moller stressed the need to provide more investment for children, who they said, play a key role in ensuring sustainable development in Vietnam.

UNICEF officials and poor children in the Central Highland province of Kon Tum.

All children have their own right to live, grow up and develop their capacity. Vietnam has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and this has shown the country’s commitment to childcare, they noted.

The two officials also laid emphasis on the provision of necessary services for children, saying this is an urgent task to help them grow up properly.

Other participants at the seminar shared experience in adding children-related issues to national development plans and proposed measures to deal with children-related problems such as education and training, health care, and social welfare.

They also suggested improving public financial management skills to provide better care for children.

Vietnamese to continue working in South Korea

Labour officials of Viet Nam and the Republic of Korea plan to continue the Employment Permit System (EPS) programme, which sends Vietnamese workers to South Korea.

The plan was announced after a fruitful meeting between the Viet Nam Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and the South Korean Ministry of Employment and Labour (MOEL) earlier this month.

"There are better understandings between the ministries in regards to the programme. We hope to send 10,000 workers to South Korea by the end of the year," said MOLISA Minister Pham Thi Hai Chuyen.

A Memorandum of Understanding on the EPS programme signed by the two ministries last December will expire next month. The ministries have scheduled a meeting in December at which they will review conditions for continuing the EPS programme and discuss measures to prevent illegal Vietnamese workers from overstaying their worker visas.

The ministries aim to work together to reduce the number of illegal Vietnamese workers in South Korea.

There are 16,640 illegal Vietnamese workers in South Korea, according to the South Korean Ministry of Justice. This amounts to 33.88 per cent of the 49,108 Vietnamese workers in South Korea, far higher than the 15 per cent average for other nationalities.

Vietnamese workers who overstay their visas will face a fine of US$4,700. Workers who go to South Korea will have to put down this amount as a security deposit.

The MOLISA has set up a representative office in South Korea to motivate workers to return at the end of their contracts.

The Government also ordered the MOLISA to co-operate with local authorities to talk with workers and their families about their duty to return after their visas expire.

During the meeting, the South Korean MOEL promised to help by issuing warnings and fines to South Korean companies found employing illegal Vietnamese workers. MOEL will also support Vietnamese workers with vocational training programmes and language lessons in Korean before they return to their home country, helping Vietnamese workers secure jobs in the approximately 3,200 South Korean factories and companies in Viet Nam.

In addition, Vietnamese workers will be able to obtain work visas multiple times if their skills are needed by South Korean companies and their visa records are clean.

Vietnamese workers in South Korea send home approximately $700 million, one-third of the total amount sent home every year by Vietnamese workers around the world, according to the Department of Overseas Labour.

Vietnam-Norway programme enhances workplace relations

A programme aiming to improve the capacity of businesses to create harmonious workplaces was launched in Hanoi on October 9, coordinated by Vietnamese and Norwegian organisations.

The programme is jointly carried out by the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprises, the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions, the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL), and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

From now until October 2015, the project will be implemented in 25-30 companies operating in different sectors in Hanoi and the neighbouring provinces of Bac Ninh and Hung Yen.

Workshops and training courses will be organised to enhance managers and trade union workers’ skills to negotiate collective labour agreements and apply new labour regulations in business administration.

Senior experts will also be invited to help companies improve their human resources management and workplace relations.

VGCL and VCCI representatives said Vietnamese businesses were facing increasing pressure to sustain harmonious relations between employers and employees due to the growing number of strikes.

Once industrial relations are stabilised, disputes and strikes will be reduced, while labour productivity, company competitiveness, and workers’ livelihoods will also be enhanced, thus contributing to economic growth in general, they added.

44th UPU letter writing competition kicks off

The 44th Universal Postal Union (UPU) International Letter Writing Contest was launched in the northern port city Hai Phong on October 9 under the theme “Tell us about the world you want to grow up in”.

The annual international competition aims to improve children’s writing skills, increasing their awareness of the role of postal services and tightening international friendships.

In Vietnam, the competition usually receives more than one million entries from students aged 10-15 each year.

The original version and English or French translation of the best letter at the national level will be submitted to the global contest.

In the 43rd competition, seventh grader Pham Phuong Thao from Hai Phong’s Chu Van An Secondary School won the consolation prize.

Under the theme “Write a letter about how music can touch lives”, Thao wrote a story about a violin whose owner became more optimistic in life when making music.

On this occasion, 30 scholarships were presented to outstanding students in the city who live in difficult circumstances.

Centre for Hanoi studies, development established

The Institute of Vietnamese Studies and Development Sciences under the Vietnam National University (VNU) in Hanoi has announced its decision to establish a centre for Hanoi studies and development which is expected to boost the capital’s growth.

VNU Director Phung Xuan Nha said the centre is tasked with directing scientific research and training human resources to facilitate Hanoi’s sustainable growth.

It will focus on examining the city’s development plans; exploring social science and humanities issues under economic, social, and environmental aspects; and establishing international cooperation in the field of urban development.

Nguyen Van Suu, Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, said the capital’s current development required the field of Hanoi studies to expand, providing a scientific basis for planning and implementing development strategies and policies.

He said he hoped this move would also boost cooperation on scientific research and personnel training between the VNU and Hanoi’s authorities.

Fewer late, cancelled flights

A total of 9.9 per cent of domestic flights, or 1,308 of 13,200, were late in September, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Viet Nam (CAAV). This was a fall of 3.9 per cent from August.

The CAAV reported that no flights were cancelled because of commercial decisions.

Major reasons for late and cancelled flights included weather conditions and flight control problems.

Jetstar Pacific, VietjetAir and Vietnam Airlines had the highest percentages of recent flights cancelled or late – 19 per cent, 15.4 per cent and 6.6 per cent, respectively.

The two-month implementation of Directive 15, issued by the Ministry of Transport, accounted for reductions in the amount of late and cancelled flights, said Lai Xuan Thanh, head of the CAAV.

He said that after two months, late flights decreased from 26.7 to 21.1 per cent and cancelled flights from 1.7 per cent to 0.7 per cent.

Ha Noi fails to meet red book goal

Ha Noi is not likely to be able to meet its target of granting 40,000 house ownership certificates, also known as "red books", this year.

The municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment said on Wednesday that so far only about 21,110 red books had been issued to house owners.

This was revealed at a workshop held on Wednesday to seek solutions to the slow processing of ownership papers.

Deputy Director of the department, Nguyen Huu Nghia, said the number of people who had applied for red books was not as high as expected.

This was partly because many investors in housing projects failed to provide the proper legal documents to complete registration procedures for apartment owners, he said.

Also, many apartment owners resold or transferred their houses illegally, without legal confirmation from municipal Department of Construction. This made if difficult to complete legal documentation for the red books, he said.

To speed up the granting of red books, Nghia proposed that the municipal People's Committee demand housing project investors to quickly submit documentation so house-owners could receive their red books of ownership.

Committee vice-chairman Vu Hong Khanh said it was compulsory for land and house owners to get red books to ensure their legal rights and interests. He urged the Department of Natural Resources and Environment to speed up the process of granting the books.

He said housing investors must submit enough legal documents to authorised registration offices to help apartment owners get red books as soon as a property was sold.

VN lowers child poverty rate

Since 2011, Viet Nam has lowered the child poverty rate by two per cent annually, increased vaccination coverage in infants to 90 per cent and continued to provide help to children in difficult circumstances.

This was revealed at a consultation workshop on children's rights under the Socio-Economic Development Plan yesterday.

Ongoing problems that will be tackled include other issues relating to children living in rural and mountainous regions and those with disabilities.

The other major issue is improving maternal health for ethnic minorities.

According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), more than 80 per cent of children with disabilities cannot go to school - and 75 per cent of mothers from ethnic minorities give birth with no skilled helpers.

Jesper Moller, deputy UNICEF representative in Viet Nam, said the organisation would continue to support child development and protection programmes.

He said that to meet the targets set for the next five-year cycle, Viet Nam would need a robust framework to guide planning and budgeting. He said the Ministry of Planning and Investment would lead the programme.

Deputy Director of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs's Department of Child Protection and Care, Dang Hoa Nam, recommended the Government consolidate all budget spending for children and produce an annual budget for child programmes.

Co-organisers of the workshop, the planning and investment ministry and UNICEF, said investing in child development was a moral and economic imperative.

Two die in wall collapse

Two men were killed when a wall collapsed in Ba Thuoc's Dien Trung commune yesterday.

The victims, Le Dinh Ha and Ha Van To, residents of Dien Trung commune, were hired to break down the wall in a house belonging to Tao Van Tien. Local authorities are investigating.

Medical equipment left unused in Quang Ninh

The Ministry of Health has asked Quang Ninh's health department to clarify information about 100 unused medical machines.

The ministry said a story on Giao duc Viet Nam, an online newspaper, reported that Quang Ninh's Bai Chay Hospital invested in broken, useless medical equipment.

The hospital could not provide details on the origins of the medical machines, according to the provincial Department of Science and Technology.

Quang Ninh's health department is required to clarify its use of medical equipment at Bai Chay hospital.


Filling stations, climate change, sex ratio at birth, Global Handwashing Day