Foreign firms in Vietnam seeking to sack pregnant workers

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A pregnant worker of Doojung Vietnam in Hanoi cries, fearing she will lose her job. Photo by Khong Nhung

Le Thi Kim Thanh, 33, a factory worker in the southern province of Dong Nai, recently lodged a complaint with provincial labor inspectors in order to save her job.

Thanh said leaders of the Japanese owned Mamuchi Motor Vietnam had attempted to force her to quit, both verbally and by placing her in poor working conditions, upon learning that she was pregnant.

She said she has been working at the factory since 2002, earning VND4 million (US$190) a month, and that firm leaders directly asked her to quit after she began suffering from morning sickness early this year.

Pregnant women and new mothers are given priority in the avoidance of working extra shifts, according to Vietnam labor laws, but many factories consider that a luxury.

Many female employees of a factory in Hanoi were also on the verge of losing their jobs due to pregnancies until they made a fuss.

Doojung Vietnam, a South Korean cosmetic accessories producer, announced a month ago its plans to dismiss women in their sixth month of pregnancy for failing meet company regulations on working extra shifts. It also banned all female employees from having babies for the next three years.

The orders were only abolished when most workers protested by going on strike for several days.

Lawyer Tran Dinh Trien from Hanoi said any layoffs due to pregnancy were not only illegal but also "inhuman."

"Every person is born to a mother. The companies are acting unethically [by sacking pregnant women]," Trien said.

He said the companies should at least be fined, or have their licenses suspended, "for violating human rights."

Nguyen Thi Thu Hong, vice chairwoman of the Vietnam Labor Union, said victims of such discrimination can lodge complaints with the union.

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