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Difficult to handle insurance debt business

Ho Chi Minh CityAfter a year of pursuing a lawsuit to collect a social insurance debt of more than VND8 billion, many workers of Asia Garment Co., Ltd (District 12) almost gave up because they were too tired.

Mr. Le Van Thong, 39 years old, from Binh Dinh, is one of the workers who filed a lawsuit in the court of Tan Binh district, where the business is headquartered. The male worker has worked for three years, but the company only pays insurance for 6 months.

After that, the factory still deducts salary every month but does not pay social, health and unemployment insurance premiums for employees. In February 2020, the company was inspected by Ho Chi Minh City Social Security, issued a sanctioning decision and requested to be remedied, but did not comply.

Workers gather files to sue Asia Garment Company in March 2021.  Photo: Le Tuyet

Workers gather files to sue Asia Garment Company in March 2021. Image: Le Tuyet

By March 2021, the debt had reached 8.3 billion VND. Sick workers do not have health insurance, female workers give birth without maternity benefits. At this time, nearly 400 workers stopped working to ask the company to fix it, but to no avail. After that, more than 100 people quit their jobs and filed lawsuits in court.

“Difficulty piled up but no one received unemployment benefits because the company owes insurance,” Mr. Thong said. Not to mention pursuing a lawsuit makes workers take a long time to reconcile and supplement records, many people have to constantly ask for leave. More than 100 people filed lawsuits but now less than a dozen followers. Currently, the company’s debt has increased to 9.4 billion dong, including accrued interest.

Asia Garment Co., Ltd. is one of nearly 45,000 units and businesses in Ho Chi Minh City that owes social insurance from one to more than 12 months with a total amount of more than 4,000 billion dong, as of the end of March. In which, about 25,000 businesses 1-3 months debt with more than 1,500 billion dong; over 12,800 businesses owe from three to less than 12 months with a total amount of nearly 665 billion dong; nearly 6,400 12-month debt units with more than 1,700 billion dong.

Ms. Nguyen Thi My Dung, Deputy Director of Ho Chi Minh City Social Insurance, said that for businesses that have debt for three months or more and the debt amount is from VND 50 million, this agency will send invitations to urge , request payment. Businesses that are deliberately inactive will be inspected and sanctioned by the insurance agency.

However, the highest administrative sanction for individuals who do not pay enough, misappropriate insurance money… is currently VND 75 million, and organizations are fined twice. Compared with the debt of billions of dong, this level of treatment is “not enough of a deterrent”, partly the reason why businesses “give up”.

In addition to administrative sanctions, two “tools” are unions taking to court, criminal handling of enterprises that owe social insurance, which is expected to reduce insurance debt, but in recent years almost nothing has been done. use to be.

Two years ago, Ho Chi Minh City Social Security gathered records of 84 businesses with long-term insurance debts with a total amount of nearly 160 billion VND, affecting many workers, transferred to the city police, and proposed criminal handling. . Nearly a year later, 47 files were returned with the reason given by the police that there was no sign of constituting the crime of evading social insurance contributions under Article 216 of the Penal Code. 37 other cases are still being investigated and verified, so far no results.

Employees working at a factory in Cu Chi were owed wages, social insurance and collectively stopped working in 2018. Photo: Le Tuyet

Workers at a factory in Cu Chi were owed wages, social insurance and collectively stopped working in 2018. Photo: Le Tuyet

Analyzing problems when applying criminal measures to social insurance debts, the insurance side said that the police agency determined that late payment was not enough to constitute a crime. Because in fact, the enterprise has a full labor declaration, the amount that needs to be deducted but the production is difficult, so it is not enough to pay, so it does not constitute an act of evasion.

In addition, the regulation on enterprises that owe social insurance in the Penal Code is “evading payment”, while documents on handling administrative violations are “slow payment, insufficient payment”. It is this inconsistency that makes administrative sanctioning decisions unable to base the case to criminal due to different acts.

Another difficulty is that when the Law on Social Insurance 2014 took effect, the regulation that trade unions sue enterprises for social insurance debts to court under Article 14 also encountered difficulties and was almost impossible to implement.

Mr. Tran Van Trieu, Director of the Legal Consultancy Center (HCMC Federation of Labor), said that Article 14 stipulates that unions sue for social insurance under Clause 8, Article 10 of the Trade Union Law, but this clause only allows sue when authorized by the employee, i.e. one petition per person.

“Often, long-term insurance debt falls on businesses with thousands of employees, which means that thousands of authorizations must be made for unions to participate in court proceedings, which is very expensive and time-consuming,” said Mr. Trieu. Therefore, in the three years of 2019-2021, center staff only represent 7 employees to participate in court proceedings in labor disputes over wages, illegal contract termination, social insurance debt, etc. festival.

Mr. Tran Van Trieu (far right) guides employees who are owed social insurance to sue at the court of Cu Chi district.  Photo: An Phuong

Mr. Tran Van Trieu (far right) guides employees who are owed social insurance to sue at the court of Cu Chi district. Image: An Phuong

Talking about the difficulties when unions sue businesses for insurance debts, Mr. Ngo Duy Hieu, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, said that trade unions at all levels have made great efforts to find solutions to bring the problem to the people. Social insurance debt lawsuits go to court but the results are insignificant, very few cases are accepted by the court.

Mr. Hieu stated that the main reason is the inadequacies and contradictions between the provisions of the relevant laws, including the Civil Procedure Code, the Labor Code, the Law on Social Insurance and the Law on Trade Unions. For example, there are laws that stipulate that the authority to initiate lawsuits belongs to the grassroots trade unions, there are laws that empower grassroots trade unions at enterprises, the law requires written authorization of each employee…

“It is this inconsistency that has made it impossible to enforce a law,” said Mr. Hieu, and said that this contributed to the rapidly growing insurance debt situation.

Leaders of the General Confederation said that trade unions are representative organizations that protect workers according to Article 10 of the Constitution. When their legitimate rights and interests are infringed, it is inappropriate to have authorization to be protected by the trade union. On the other hand, for businesses with tens of thousands of employees, it is impossible to get each person’s signature.

According to Mr. Hieu, in the coming time, in the direction of amending legal regulations on lawsuits, it is necessary to consider assigning the task of suing to the immediate superior trade union to avoid “difficult situations” for grassroots officials. Because it is not easy for them to take legal action against the employer because they may be punished, retaliated, causing difficulties at work, affecting employment and income.

Le Tuyet

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