A workshop on rights of migrant workers in the informal sector in Hanoi (Photo: radiovietnam.vn)

Hanoi (VNA) - Few migrant workers in the informal sector have proper understanding about their rights in host localities and how to exercise those rights, particularly those relating to social welfare, Chairwoman of Hanoi’s Women Union Tran Thi Phuong Hoa said.

Hoa spoke at a conference on June 22 calling for better policies surrounding migrant workers, saying that they contributed to the city’s income generation and economic growth but they remain vulnerable groups, benefiting little from social welfare including housing, healthcare or education.

Children of the migrant workers were also affected.

For example, children whose parents are migrants and without permanent or temporary residence registrations are less likely to be in school than those with permanent registration.

Do Thi Hong, a refuse collector, said her parents took her to Hanoi 30 years ago when she was a child because they did not have land for cultivation in their hometown – northern Vinh Phuc Province.

“I have lived in Hanoi for 30 years but am yet to be recognised a citizen of Hanoi,” she said.

“Without permanent and temporary residence registration, I couldn’t sign up for healthcare insurance while I have suffered illnesses requiring surgeries for years,” she said.

When she returned to her hometown to ask for an authorised paper proving her absence there, local authorities said such a paper was granted only for those who are in jail, she said, adding that she could not complete an application for health insurance.

Nguyen Xuan Thiem, an officer at Hoan Kiem District’s Social Insurance Desk, said that permanent residence registration, temporary registration or temporary absence from residence were required when people start joining health insurance plans.

He said that this year, the application for health insurance was made more simple and convenient as Vietnam wanted to increase rate of health insurance participation in the population.

They could reach the Social Insurance Desk at People’s Committees at commune and district levels or local post offices.

However, residence papers were still needed to avoid duplicate health insurance cards and streamline medical examination and treatment among localities, he said.

Nguyen Thu Giang, Director of the Institute for Community and Health Development (LIGHT) cited a report on household registration system in Vietnam launched by World Bank last week, which said at least 5.6 million people in Vietnam don’t have registration certificates.

The lack of registration hindered migrants in employment and access to services, she said.

Deputy Head of Legal Affairs Department under Hanoi Women’s Union Dang Thi Thu Huong said that residence registration system needs to be reformed so that it was a tool to manage residents’ living places instead of a barrier preventing them from social welfare services.

Huong said that it was necessary to have more effective policies to support migrant workers.

Giang from LIGHT said that new policies should be designed to better meet the needs of the migrants.

For example, migrant workers in the informal sector are those like street vendors, scrap collectors or porters, who worked without contracts and their income was usually unstable.

For the last few years, those working in the informal sector are encouraged to join voluntary social insurance that could help provide them with a stable pension when they reach retirement age or allowances when they died.

However, Giang said that voluntary social insurance did not cover cases of illness or pregnancy when the migrant workers most need aid.-VNA