Improved working conditions go hand in hand with business success

13 Dec 2019

Better Work has supported hundreds of garment factories to earn significant gains in quality of life for workers and enhance productivity and profitability in the past 10 years.

HCM CITY – Hundreds of garment factories joining Better Work Viet Nam has demonstrated that improving working conditions helps business succeed in the global economy.

Incepted in Viet Nam in 2009, Better Work currently covers nearly 400 garment factories in the north and the south, reaching 600,000 workers, or one fourth of the industry’s workforce. The joint programme of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) offers a package of services to all factories enrolled, including assessments, advisory and training.

On 12 December 2019, the programme’s tripartite partners – the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour – gathered in HCM City to celebrate ten years of its operation in Viet Nam.

The factories joining Better Work have shown significant increase in compliance with national laws and international labour standards, leading to improved working conditions for workers.

Almost all of the factories under the programme have paid workers equal or higher than the minimum wages, whereas violations of overtime limits reduced to 67 per cent in 2018 against 90 per cent in 2009.

Non-compliance rate in labour law requirements on facilities – including canteens, toilets and access to clean drinking water – has also dropped significantly from all of the factories ten years ago to only 33 per cent last year.

Better Work Viet Nam also helped strengthening social dialogue through the introduction of worker-management committees. In 2012, this initiative was modelled in the Labour Code to make bipartite dialogue mandatory in all of the country’s industries.

“Improved working conditions go hand in hand with increased business profits,” said Paula Albertson, Better Work Viet Nam programme manager. “Better Work Viet Nam has demonstrated real results on the factory floor, showing that workers and employers both benefit when labour standards improve.”

The average factory enrolled in the programme experienced a rise in profitability of 25 per cent after four years.

Factories that invest in supervisory skill training for female supervisors have gained 22 per cent in productivity.

“Better Work, together with other ILO projects and programmes, is helping businesses in Viet Nam improve productivity and industrial relations, as the country goes for deeper global economic integration and becomes a hub of the global supply chains,” said ILO Viet Nam Director, Chang-Hee Lee. “The upgrading workplace management system is the key driver for Viet Nam to achieve its ambition of becoming an upper middle income country by 2035.”

In its second decade of operation, he added, it’s important for Better Work Viet Nam to continue its work and impacts in a more sustainable way to help create more and better jobs in this fast growing industry.

The textile and garment industry is expected to contribute US$40 billion to Viet Nam’s economy in 2019, up from $7.5 billion ten years ago.

Better Work Viet Nam currently receives funding from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO)- Switzerland, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Netherlands, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, and the European Union.

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