Tuesday, July 07, 2009
WORKERS' STRUGGLES IN A 'WORKERS' PARADISE':
The days of state socialism are pretty well over and done. About the only adherent to the full blown Marxist dream left in power these days is the increasingly bizarre and vicious ruling class of North Korea. Many countries, such as those of the ex-Soviet bloc, have abolished the old system of class rule lock, stock and barrel. Others have abolished the economic reality of managerial control without any way of gauging prices but have kept the old dictatorial political systems. Even the darling of leftists worldwide, the Castro dictatorship, has advanced very far along this road.
Vietnam is one such country, and like China it has managed to combine what is possibly the worst of both old style Communist managerialism and the so-called 'capitalist' managerial system. Looking at the ocean of debris left floating after the storm that wrecked the SS Marxism, one is generally struck by the extraordinary nastiness that the new ruling class (usually very much the old one with only an exchange of the tools of power) exhibits. So far only the countries of eastern Europe that the EU has been able to bribe into at least a moderate semblance of civilized political behavior have been able to escape this general trend. The old communist corruption, however, has been less touched by this bribery than the political facade has been.
What is the problem here ? Molly submits that the systematic use of the Marxist "propaganda model" failed in its ostensible goals, but "succeeded" in producing some unexpected side effects. Some of the failures are glaringly obvious. Despite decades of propaganda about "internationalism", once the lid was opened on the pot various nationalisms exploded in many such places. The "proletarian brothers" were not just unsympathetic to those in far distant corners of the world. No, they began to slaughter their neighbours. Decades of the propaganda had precisely the opposite effect than that intended. Because the class rule of the managers was built on such obvious lies about the economy, and because it was enforced by state terror, generations grew up believing that all of what the ruling class said was a lie, including their pious proclamations of "brotherhood".
Vietnam is one of those countries that has opened its doors to western management while retaining the anachronistic old political regime. The ruling class retains all of the viciousness that it once had, but this is becoming less and less effective. The working class of Vietnam, just like that of China, is turning its anger to what will hopefully be a more productive end than racial pogroms (though that may be a far shot in China), the defence of its own interests against that of the ruling class. Here's a story from the LibCom site about some of the latest labour unrest in Vietnam.
Vietnamese workers stage walkout over management bullying:
Over 300 workers at a Taiwanese company, Hwata Vina, in Ho Chi Minh City went on strike July 3 after complaining about managers’ draconian rules.
They said that the company, which produces water tanks and Inox appliances for kitchens, had made unreasonable stipulations. For example, workers were permitted to go to the toilet just three times a day for five minutes each. Workers would not get paid for periods when electricity was cut.
They were also asked to be present at the company 20 minutes before work started. Failure to do so, resulted in a deduction of VND100,000 each time a worker is late.
The stipulations were made worse by the bullying and abusive language from managers.
Director of the company, Ly Cheng Yeng said that the company did not have such rules, and it was the managers who set the regulations themselves. He apologized to workers for the bad treatment and pledged to correct the situation.
The managers were also asked by relevant authorities to produce work licenses, they could not.
Although Mr Yeng promised that the company would register the managers, the representative of the management board of industrial zones and export processing zones did not agree. He has asked authorities not to permit the managers to work at the company.
In the early afternoon, workers agreed to return to work.
Ho Chi Minh City authorities recently announced that top executives of two more foreign companies fled the country leaving behind debts, taking the number of such firms in Ho Chi Minh City so far to five. Four of them are Korean and the other Malaysian and the companies have all shut down as a result, leaving 1,246 workers in the lurch.
The companies owe the workers VND2.2 billion (US$129 million) in salaries. Vina Haeng Woon Co.,Ltd tops, with wages owed of VND1.3 billion, followed by Quang Sung Vina with VND553 million.
The companies also owe their customers and the social insurance agency another VND4.8 billion.