The Labour movement of Vietnam

Melanie Beresford, Chris Nyland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Under colonialism, the Vietnamese labour movement was deeply imbued with ideas of socialism and national independence. In a divided country (1954-75), southern union leaders attempted, under American tutelage, to develop a purely defensive and anti-socialist posture in the face of both political repression and contestation of their leadership by the socialists. Ultimately their reliance on American support proved self-defeating. In the northern half of the country trade unions became part of the management apparatus of the 'worker-peasant' state. However, effective worker participation was constrained both by bureaucratic organisation and the centralised nature of economic planning. Workers therefore relied on state paternalism while claiming rights within the enterprise extending beyond the labour contract. Since the 1980s economic reforms, necessary restructuring of the unions has lagged behind the development of the market economy. Increasing pressures of international economic integration and growing independence of unions will challenge the paternalism of the party-state.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-80
Number of pages24
JournalLabour History
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1998


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