Better Work Vietnam is part of a global joint programme between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). It works by coaching, training and assessing factory conditions to help bring businesses in line with Viet Nam’s laws and core international labour standards.
The move to the North comes following a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA), Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Vietnam General Confederation of Labour, the ILO and the IFC last February.
Under this MoU, Better Work Vietnam will be run in the capital city of Hanoi and surrounding provinces during the 2014-19 period, apart from its primary location in HCM City and its surrounds.
Over the next five years, the programme will also expand services to the footwear industry where there exists high demand from buyers, enterprises and stakeholders.
Since its start in Viet Nam in 2009, Better Work has reached nearly 300,000 workers in more than 200 apparel factories in the south, equivalent to a quarter of Viet Nam’s garment exporters. More than 50 international buyers and retailers have subscribed to the programme.
According to MoLISA, as the country eyes deeper economic integration and increased international trade, made-in-Viet Nam products need to meet requirements of importers and customers, including working conditions, to be able to access developed markets like the US, Canada and the EU.
ILO Vietnam Director, Gyorgy Sziraczki, said Better Work can help secure Viet Nam's status among the world’s most attractive sourcing destinations for apparel production.
“Viet Nam can differentiate itself in the international market on more than cheap labour by improving the working environment, giving workers’ a voice and boosting productivity,” he added.
Better Work Vietnam assessment reports have found consistent improvements in factories that are part of the programme. Three fifths of them have expanded their employment, around 65 per cent have seen a rise in their sales and 75 per cent have had an increase in order size.
The programme is supported by the governments of the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, USA and Australia.