Fairwork Vietnam joins the Fairwork network

Posted on 18.04.2023
Grab riders in Hanoi, Vietnam
Grab riders in Hanoi, Vietnam (PC: Vietnam Stock Images, Shutterstock)

Fairwork is delighted to announce the launch of Fairwork Vietnam. The team will be based at the Center for Health Consultation and Community Development (CHD) and led by Do Hai Ha and Joe Buckley.

Over the past ten years or so, digital labour platforms have exploded in Vietnam. App-based drivers, adorned with the colours and logos of various platforms, have become part of the urban fabric, and use of these services a standard part of life for many Vietnamese citizens. The sector is competitive, with both Vietnamese and international platforms attempting to corner a section of the market, and attract the attention of fintech investors in their bid to compete with regional behemoth Grab – a platform that alone claims nearly 200,000 drivers and 100 million users, equivalent to 25% of Vietnam’s whole population 

Alongside platforms’ popularity, labour issues in the sector have also come to fore. Questions of legal status, minimum wages, social protection, and health and safety are currently live debates in Vietnam, with policymakers, trade unionists, and other stakeholders grappling over how to best regulate such work. Workers have also taken matters into their own hands, with the past few years seeing drivers engaging in increasing numbers of protests and wildcat strikes (or, following the euphemistic term commonly used in the Vietnamese press, “collective app switch-offs”, đồng loạt tắt app) over a wide range of demands: levels of commission, bonus policies, tax rates, petrol prices, and more. 

While ride-hailing and delivery platforms have attracted the most attention from researchers, policymakers, and labour practitioners, they are far from the only digital labour platforms in the country. Thousands of people also work for domestic work platforms, private tuition platforms, and various Cloudwork (online remote work) platforms. These forms of digital labour have thus far received much less interest from stakeholders, although many of the questions of decent work remain the same. 

Considering these new directions for work and working conditions in Vietnam, a Fairwork team in Vietnam comes at a crucial time. Over the upcoming year, the team will use the Fairwork principles to rate digital labour platforms in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s biggest city. The team hopes to engage workers, unions, platforms, and other stakeholders in good faith, to come together and think about how best to regulate and improve work in the platform economy. The Fairwork Vietnam findings can be used as an evidence base for further discussion, and to draft regulation that will better protect and improve the fundamental rights and interests of workers.