600,000 Vietnamese garment workers benefit from Better Work programme

Friday, 2019-12-13 09:43:57
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A garment worker under the Better Work programme.
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NDO – Hundreds of garment factories participating in the Better Work Vietnam programme have reported that improving working conditions can help businesses succeed in the global economy.

The information was made available at the 10th anniversary of the Better Work Vietnam, organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Ho Chi Minh City on December 12 with the participation partners and representatives from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour.

Launched in Vietnam in 2009, Better Work is present in nearly 400 garment factories in the North and the South, with about 600,000 employees, equivalent to a quarter of the domestic textile workforce.

The programme is a cooperation between the ILO and the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, which provides support packages for participating factories, including assessments, training, advocacy and research. Through participation in the programme, over the past 10 years, hundreds of garment factories have achieved successes in bringing quality of life to workers while increasing productivity and profits.

After joining the programme, factories have shown a significant increase in compliance with national labour regulations and international labour standards, leading to improved working conditions for workers.

Accordingly, the majority of factories in the programme pay workers equal to or higher than the minimum wage. The percentage of violations related to overtime and standards for cafeteria, home or water supply also dropped sharply.

At the same time, Better Work Vietnam has also helped to strengthen social dialogue through the establishment of Performance Improvement Consultative Committees (PICCs) that involve workers, trade unions and business leaders. In 2012, this initiative became the seed for the regular dialogue mechanism between employees and employers as stipulated in the Labour Code.

Paula Albertson, Better Work Vietnam Programme Manager, said that improved working conditions are always accompanied by increased profits for enterprises. Tangible results in factories prove that both workers and employers can benefit when labour standards rise.

In fact, on average, a factory participating in the programme recorded a 25% increase in profits after four years. In particular, factories that have invested in productivity supervisory skills training, particularly among female supervisors, increased productivity by 22%.

Dr. Chang-Hee Lee, ILO Vietnam Director, said that improving the workplace management system is an important motivation for Vietnam to achieve its goal of becoming an upper middle-income country by 2035.

However, according to Dr. Chang-Hee Lee, in its second decade, Better Work Vietnam needs to continue to operate and bring more sustainable impacts, helping create more good jobs in this rapidly growing industry.

Vietnam's textile and apparel industry is expected to contribute U$$40 billion to Vietnam's economy in 2019, compared to US$7.5 billion in 2009.