Last week, the Group of Four (G4) Deputy Heads of Mission from Canada, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland visited Better Work Vietnam participating factory Thuan Phuong Group to better understand the impacts of the programme on the factory floor and discuss recent changes to the national labour law.
The delegation included Nicole Wyrsch (Switzerland), Robert Bissett (Canada), Joseph Mayhew (New Zealand), and Jan Wilhelm Grythe (Norway), among others. Thuan Phuong Group, located in Long An province, started with Better Work in 2017 with four garment factories and 5,000 workers and has gradually expanded to seven participating garment factories and more than 8,000 workers in 2021.
Mai Dang Khoa, Deputy General Director of the Group, and representatives of relevant departments and the Trade Union welcomed the delegation. Factory management showed the delegation the factory’s development progress and milestones towards sustainability since first joining in the Better Work Vietnam programme.
Through BWV advisory sessions, the factory has paid great attention to corporate social responsibility and steadily improved compliance with national laws and international core labour standards. The factory also shared with the G4 Delegation its perspectives on employee relations and employment conditions, its COVID-19 response and recovery, building long-term resilience, and other critical issues. The G4 Delegation took the opportunity to discuss with the factory’s management and the trade union representatives about labor management and workforce development, particularly training programs for women workers and social dialogue at the workplace.
“Employees are the most important contributors to the success and growth of our group,” said Deputy General Director Khoa, regarding changes in the 2019 Labor Law that allow workers to form or join a representative organization of their own choosing. “With the positive experiences working with the trade union, which has been elected by employees, we are confident that the changes in the law will offer the opportunities for us to further strengthen labour management relations at the workplace.”
Echoing the factory messages, Nguyen Hong Ha, the Programme Manager of Better Work Vietnam, highlighted the programme’s impact on improving working conditions, dialogue at the workplace, compliance with international labour standards and the national labor law, and increased business competitiveness and resilience.
“Our data consistently shows the overall improvement trend across over 400 factories participating in the programme,” Nguyen said. “This has enabled the programme to expand the impact beyond the factory level through policy, advocacy and good practice sharing with the Industry.”
During the factory tour, the G4 Delegation was also able to see the green production initiatives the Thuan Phuong Group has implemented. Examples include G.Pro systems, a real-time system to monitor processes in factories to bring down waste and cost and improve production efficiency, as well as electrocoagulation water treatment that gradually reduces the use of chemicals and produces non-hazardous waste to the environment.
Speaking at the end of the visit, G4 delegates said they were pleased with the achievement of Thuan Phuong Group and stressed the importance of continuous improvement to promote worker safety, health and well-being for workers.
“We were impressed by Thuan Phuong’s continuing efforts, as well as by Better Work’s hard work to encourage companies to follow this track,” said Nicole Wyrsch, Deputy Head of the Mission of Switzerland.