Better Work

Better Work programme in garment sector to move north and expand to footwear industry

The ILO and its partners have agreed to expand a major programme aiming to improve the export industries’ performance and competitiveness in the next five years.

News | 18 February 2014
HANOI (ILO News) – A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on 18 February in Hanoi, confirming the extension of Better Work Vietnam – a programme aiming to improve the export industries’ performance and competitiveness – in the country during the 2014-19 period.

The Better Work Vietnam is part of a global joint programme between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The initiative plays a key role in aligning private sector expectations with Viet Nam’s laws and core international labour standards, using coaching, training and compliance assessment.

Under the new MoU inked between the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA), Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour, ILO and IFC, Better Work Viet Nam will be run in the capital city of Hanoi and surrounding provinces, apart from its primary location in HCM City and the neighbourhood.

Since its start in Viet Nam in 2009, the initiative has reached nearly 300,000 workers in more than 200 apparel factories in the south, equivalent to a quarter of Viet Nam’s garment exporters. More than 50 international buyers and retailers also subscribe to the programme.

“Viet Nam is deeply integrating into the global economy…. But to be able to export to such markets as the US, Canada and the EU, our products have to meet requirements of importers and customers, including labour conditions,” said Vice Minister of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs Doan Mau Diep.

According to ILO Viet Nam Director Gyorgy Sziraczki, Better Work can help Viet Nam to advance its role as one of the world’s most attractive sourcing destinations for garment – one of the major exports attracting the most workers of the country – and “differentiate itself in the international market on more than cheap labour by improving the working environment, giving workers’ a voice and boosting productivity”.

Better Work Vietnam assessment reports have found consistent improvements in factories that are part of the programme. Three fifths of them have expanded their employment, around 65 per cent have seen a rise in their sales and 75 per cent have had an increase in order size.

During the 2014-19 period, the programme will not only continue to support enterprises in the export apparel industry but also expand the services to the footwear industry where there is high demand from buyers, enterprises and stakeholders.

IFC Investment Climate Regional Business Line Manager for East Asia Pacific, Wendy Werner, said the IFC “is pleased to support Viet Nam in improving the quality of production and working conditions, especially when the country is heading towards a competitive environment under the Trans-Pacific Partnership”.

Better Work Viet Nam operates from revenues collected from private sectors, which include registration fees from participating factories and report purchasing fees from international buyers. The programme is also funded by the governments of Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the USA.