HANOI (ILO News) – Head of the Party Central Mass Mobilization Committee Truong Thi Mai looks for the scaling up of the impacts of ILO’s programmes in garment and wood industries, which boost firm compliances and competitiveness.
The member of Politburo and Secretariat of the Party toured Protrade garment factory and Tuong Van wood processing company as part of the Committee’s visit to the southern province of Binh Duong on 10 November.
She praised the efforts of Protrade, particularly in law compliance and ensuring workers’ rights through collective agreements which offer workers benefits higher than required by laws. She also highlighted the important role of collective bargaining in ensuring continuous improvement of wages and working conditions through voluntary negotiations.
Employing 2,300 workers with 60 per cent being female, Protrade joined Better Work Viet Nam (BWV) in 2009. As a joint ILO/IFC programme, factory services and supports provided by BWV have gained a good reputation for quality and integrity, by helping to drive up overall compliance rate in the garment sector, with social dialogue at the heart of their success. An independent research has shown that BWV factories have become not only safer and more productive environments for workers but more profitable and sustainable businesses.
Meanwhile, with 250 workers, Tuong Van, a wood furniture production company, participated in the ILO’s Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises project (SCORE Training) in 2014, and has since then significantly reduced the production time by one third while continuously boosting yearly profits. Focusing on worker engagement and empowerment to improve workplace cooperation, social dialogue and competitiveness, SCORE Training has resulted in higher productivity and better working conditions at factories. Its modules have been embedded to training portfolios of VCCI and sectorial associations provided to small and medium-sized enterprises.
Accompanying the senior politician’s visit, ILO Viet Nam Director Chang-Hee Lee noted: “There is a global research evidence showing that effective social dialogue and labour relations at the workplace is conducive to higher productivity and better working conditions.”
He emphasized that for the sustainable improvement of productivity, there should be an effective labour relations mechanism, such as collective bargaining, which will ensure workers share gains of improved productivity.
Recognizing the visible impacts of BWV and SCORE Training, Mai asked Binh Duong Province to explore ways to scale up the impacts of ILO programmes and projects in the future and at the same expected that their models could be replicated in other localities across the country.
Trade union, wages, productivity and skillsWhile visiting the factories, Mai emphasized the need for collective representation at enterprise level.
“It’s important to have trade unions so they can represent workers,” she said, explaining that it’s impossible for employers to directly handle every one of hundreds of their workers.
However, grassroots trade union executive members should be those who represent the voices and benefits of workers, independently from management, she noted.
The head of ILO Viet Nam agreed, saying that a key condition for effective trade union at the workplace is independence from management interference, as required by international labour standards.
Wages were another topic the Party Central Mass Mobilization Committee chairwoman focused on during her visit to Binh Duong. While recognizing a need to further increase minimum wage to meet minimum living requirements of workers, she emphasized that minimum wage should be better linked to CPI (consumer price index) in the future. And for workers above the minimum wage level, wages should go hand in hand with productivity.
Speaking about skills issues, she noted that the Government should support employers to provide training for workers, and public-private partnership could help to enhance workers’ skills in a practical and affordable way.
BWV is currently funded by Irish Aid, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), Switzerland, and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Funding for additional activities is provided by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and by the United States Department of Labor (USDOL).
Meanwhile, SCORE receives funding from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and SECO.