ILO100 in Viet Nam

ILO, Viet Nam celebrate their century-long path of fighting for social justice

Their intertwined journeys started at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.

News | 27 August 2019
HANOI (ILO News) – Ho Chi Minh and the International Labour Organization (ILO) shared the ideals of promoting social justice and decent work for all.

As the organization marks its Centenary existence and Viet Nam looks back at Ho Chi Minh’s half-a-century-old will in 2019, an event was organized by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) and the ILO, together with the Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL), the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce (VCCI) and Viet Nam Cooperative Alliance (VCA), in Hanoi, on 27 August to celebrate their special shared paths.

Their intertwined journeys started at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference where the ILO was established out of the ashes of the First World War and Ho Chi Minh sent the conference delegations the List of claims by Vietnamese people.

The famous letter demanded the rights to “self-determination”, and, among others, “freedom of association”, “education”, and “opening of technical and occupational education establishments”. Remarkably, this call strongly resonated with the Preamble of the ILO Constitution - “recognition of the principle of freedom of association, the organization of vocational and technical education”.

Since Viet Nam rejoined the ILO in 1992, the organization has been working with the Government, workers’ and employers’ organizations to support Viet Nam in its renewal process and building a modern and prosperous nation where decent work is an opportunity available to all.

The intertwined paths towards social justice of ILO and Viet Nam continue today. In July, the country ratified ILO core Convention 98 on the right organize and collective bargaining and is revising its Labour Code in line with the 1998 Declaration of the ILO on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

“Convention 98 on collective bargaining is an important international labour standard which will help Viet Nam move forward in modernizing industrial relations and completing the revision of the Labour Code,” Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said at the celebration. “Viet Nam and ILO met each other in their willingness and actions to develop harmonious and advanced labour relations based on ILO fundamental principles.”

Addressing the event, ILO Deputy Director General, Deborah Greenfield, also highlighted the roles of the fundamental principles and rights at work for the country.

“Abiding by the 1998 Declaration – not just in law but in practice – has become a cornerstone of a new generation of FTAs, such as CPTPP and the EU-Viet Nam FTA. The benefits of globalization and moving to up the value chain can only be achieved when decent work becomes a goal,” she explained.

As the ILO is preparing for its second century existence, its Member States adopted the Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work in June 2019, calling for actions around the world to ensure that all people will benefit from the changing world of work.

“The Centenary Declaration also reaffirms that the employment relationship remains fully relevant, that all workers are guaranteed the protection they need, and that economic growth is sustainable, inclusive and aimed at the promotion of full employment and decent work,” the ILO Deputy Director General explained.

Meanwhile, the future of work is bringing tremendous prospects of economic expansion to Viet Nam and a real opportunity for the country to achieve the higher-middle income status.

“In this new era of development, Ho Chi Minh’s ideals for labour and ILO’s mandate will be continued, realized and implemented in our market economy when Viet Nam integrates deeply into the global markets with the guiding principles of inclusive and sustainable development and leaving no one behind,” said MoLISA Minister, Dao Ngoc Dung.

This was also echoed in the tripartite joint statement by ILO’s constituents in Viet Nam – MoLISA (representing the Government), VGCL (representing workers), VCCI and VCA (representing employers) – to mark the 100 years of the ILO and Ho Chi Minh’s journey for social justice.

“These thoughts continue to guide Viet Nam's path for innovation and integration through the improvement of the labour law system, investment in people through a human-centred approach to the future of work including renewal of education and vocational training, reform of social insurance system, enhancement of productivity and sustainable enterprise development, and developing the capacity of the parties to build harmonious, stable and progressive labour relations,” it read.

The statement also reaffirmed that “as a responsible member of the ILO, Viet Nam is committed to respecting, promoting and applying international labour standards, including those under ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work in line with the country reality of development”.

ILO Viet Nam Director, Chang-Hee Lee, welcomed the tripartite statement, saying that “the roles of workers’ and employers’ organizations are becoming ever more important in Viet Nam’s move towards upper level middle income country and realization of the sustainable development goals”.

“The ILO has a unique structure, once called ‘a wild dream come true’ by Franklin Roosevelt – where the Government works with representatives of workers and employers to make joint decisions on labour conditions necessary for peace and social justice. I am happy to see such tripartism flourish in today’s Viet Nam and hope that the effective cooperation among MoLISA, VGCL, VCCI and VCA will continue to shape a fair and inclusive future of work for the country,” he added.