ILO and Viet Nam launch new initiative to improve industrial relations and promote economic development

Viet Nam, in collaboration with ILO, launches three-year Project on "Improve Industrial Relations at Work Place and Promote Working Capacity" involving both representatives from the Government and worker and employer organizations.

Press release | BANGKOK | 06 January 2003

BANGKOK (ILO News) – Amid unprecedented economic growth and a parallel increase in labour demands, Viet Nam, in collaboration the International Labour Office (ILO), is to launch a new, US-funded project aimed at strengthening the country’s industrial relations institutions and improving labour relations in the private sector.

Under the new, three-year project the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), the Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) and the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) will work with the ILO to strengthen institutions, law and practice and promote sound industrial relations at the national, provincial and enterprise level.

The project will also assist in enhancing respect for the principle of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, under the ILO's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work adopted in 1998.

The Vietnamese Government has agreed to provide support in the form of in-kind contributions of personnel and other logistical support.

The launch of the ILO-Viet Nam industrial relations project will take place on 8 January 2003 in the Press Club in Ha Noi. Media are cordially invited to attend (for more details of the event, see below).


The recent strong growth of the Vietnamese economy (6% GDP growth in 2002), with massive increases in new business start-ups (nearly 50,000 registered over the past two years), has boosted the private sector’s role as the engine for continued economic growth. The importance of the private sector is highlighted by new economic data that shows non-state and foreign-invested industry are outperforming state-owned industry in output, economic growth and job creation.

However, the difficulties of transitioning to a market economy as well as the increased pressure of globalisation are evident in the rise of labour disputes, particularly in the private sector. The concern is that these disputes can adversely affect economic growth and social stability by dampening the investment climate as well as causing disruptions in production. Between 1995 and 2000, there were 212 strikes in Ho Chi Minh City alone, 177 in the private sector and 35 in state-owned enterprises.

Viet Nam’s strong economic growth has further strained the infrastructure inherited from the days of a centrally-planned economy. It is now recognised that the current rate of growth is quickly outpacing the capacity of Viet Nam’s legal and institutional frameworks to adapt to a more open and competitive economic environment.

The ILO will assist the Government in its new role away from direct intervention in industrial relations towards the promotion of institutions and procedures through which the representatives of labour and management themselves interact to determine wages, working conditions and the rules governing employment.

The focus of the project will be on the private sector and foreign-invested industries in order to develop appropriate mechanisms and procedures that increase workers’ and employers’ organisations ability to dialogue on a range of work-related issues. Through the building of effective industrial relations institutions potential conflicts will be channelled into stability through compromise that can positively influence economic performance in the demanding global market.

Launch details

  • Registration for the launch event is at 8:30 a.m. in the Press Club.
  • Following a welcome by Mr. Le Duy Dong, National Project Director, Vice Minister of MoLISA, there will be opening statements by Vietnamese and US officials.
  • Ms. Sally Paxton, Executive Director, Social Dialogue Sector, ILO Geneva will also make a statement and is available for interviews. A more detailed agenda is available on request.

Reporters wishing to cover a Press Conference at 10:00 a.m. should contact either Rose-Marie Greve, Director ILO Vietnam, at 48-50,Nguyen Thai Hoc St., Hanoi, (+84-4 734 0900, or by fax on 846-5101), or Steve Thompson, Public Information Officer, ILO Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok (09) 064-6788).