Opening speech by ILO Viet Nam Director at consultation workshop on ratification of ILO Convention 98

ILO Viet Nam Director, Chang-Hee Lee, delivers the opening remarks at the consultation workshop entitled “Proposal for Submission of Ratification of ILO Convention 98” on 3 May 2019 in Ha Long City.

Statement | 03 May 2019
Mr Doan Mau Diep, Vice Minister of Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA)

Mr Nguyen Sy Cuong, Deputy Chairman of External Relations Committee of the National Assembly

Members of National Assembly, officials from State President Office, MoLISA and other government agencies

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning

It is my honour to open today’s consultation workshop on ratification of Convention 98 on the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining.

Convention 98 is one of eight core conventions under the Declaration on the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (FPRW) adopted in 1998. Viet Nam ratified five out of eight core conventions, and three – Conventions 98, 87 (on freedom of association) and 105 (on forced labour) – are yet to be ratified.

All member States should respect, uphold and apply key principles of FPRW, regardless of level of development, as it is based on global consensus among member States of the World Trade Organization and ILO about what should be basic and universal labour conditions for fair trade of goods and services in a globalized economy.

That is why the eight core conventions under FPRW have entered into languages of free trade agreements (FTAs), particularly new generation FTAs such as CPPTPP (The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) and the FTA between the EU and Viet Nam (EVFTA), and also into languages of most of corporate socially responsible statements of MNCs.

I am very glad that Viet Nam has made significant efforts towards the ratification of three core conventions, starting with Convention 98.

You may know that the Trade and Sustainability Chapter of EVFTA requires the parties to the FTA to make sustained efforts to ratify ILO core conventions. National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan has made commitment to the ratification of Convention 98 and revision of the Labour Code in line with ILO FPRW Declaration when she met her European counterparts during her recent visit to Brussels.

Let me put aside trade context, and just highlight why Convention 98, together with Convention 87, is important for making industrial relations system work in modern market economies. Convention 98 asks member states to do three things: 1) ensure no anti-union discrimination, 2) ensure unions are free from employers’ interference or dominance, 3) to promote collective bargaining through various measures.

Together with Convention 87, they are basic enabling principles for collective bargaining and modern industrial relatiions system to work for workers, employers and society.

When they are effective, it contributes to sustainable development, by bringing harmony and stability and also dual progresses in improving productivity and also improving working conditions.

And I would like to share with you that Viet Nam is not a stranger to the principles of Convention 98. The Ordinance 29 on defining relations between employers and workers adopted in 1947 and signed by President Ho Chi Minh has clear and simple legal provisions which are fully aligned with Convention 98 and also Convention 87. It is interesting to see the labour Ordinance 29 was adopted one year earlier than Convention 87 (1948) and two years earlier than Convention 98 (1949). Ho Chi Minh and ILO shared the same ideals of creating societies and economies where workers and employers are empowered to make decision together based on principles of freedom of association and collective bargaining, which should be one of core principles guiding socialist market economy in today’s Viet Nam.

This is the second consultation workshop on Convention 98, after successful consultation workshop in Can Tho, with National Assembly members in southern provinces. Between the first consultation workshop and today, there has been important development – that is publication of draft labour code. The text of draft revised Labour Code seems to be largely in line with Convention 98. Together with move towards ratification of Convention 98, the revised Labour Code would allow Viet Nam to modernize industrial relations and to realize thoughts of Ho Chi Minh for empowering working people and business people to make decisions on their conditions of work, contributing sustainable development of Viet Nam.

I wish you have a very productive discussion and hope that Convention 98 will be ratified in the upcoming National Assembly session, bringing prosperity through facilitation of EVFTA signing, brining harmony, stability and progress to industrial relations and society, as dreamed by founders of ILO and founding father of Viet Nam.