Trade union capacity building

Workshops on establishment of trade union champion networks in IZ/EPZ/EZ in Viet Nam

50 trade union champions representing for 50 Industrial Zones/ Export processing zones/ Economic Zones (IZs/EPZs/EZs) in Vietnam have gathered together in Quang Ninh and Vung Tau to discuss on establisment and operation of the Trade Union Champions Networks. This is an initiative in the cooperation program under New Industrial Relation Framework Project (NIRF).

From 10-11 October and 13-14 October 2017, two workshops on establishment of trade union champions network in Industrial Zones/Export Processing Zones/ Economic Zones (IZs/EPZs/EZs) were held in Quang Ninh and Vung Tau cities. There were around 50 participants who are trade union leaders of all IZs/EPZs/EZs in Vietnam. Industrial Zone Union is a new organizational model of the VGCL formed in 1998 during the process of industrialization and modernization of the country. The formation of IZTUs model brings positive effects to industrial relations in many aspects.
The workshop in Quang Ninh

As of September, 2017, 48 out of 63 provinces and cities have established 50 IZTUs which directly manage 4,935 grass-root trade unions with 1,681,737 union members. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Planning and Investment, as of November 2016, the country has 324 IZs and 16 EZs , of which 220 have been put into operation with nearly 3 million workers.

Speaking at the conference, VGCL Vice President Mai Duc Chinh confirmed that IZTUs/EPZTUs/EZTUs have been recognized by VGCL as the strategic operational area of trade union organization. In the past, the trade union leaders of IZTUs/EPZTUs/EZTUs have informally met each other to discuss and share experiences in trade union activities and representing rights and interests of workers. With support of the New Industrial Relation Framework Project (NIRF), this is the preparatory step for formalizing the network of trade union officials in industrial zones, export processing zones.
The workshop in Vung Tau

ILO Country Director Chang Hee Lee mentioned that all participants of workshops are mostly leaders of IZs/EPZs/EZs trade unions where majority of Vietnam’s modern working class in manufacturing sectors are working in great concentration in FDI and domestic private sector enterprises which connected to the global supply chains, which are drivers of economic modernization and industrialization of Vietnam. As such, they are the pattern setter not only for enterprises, but also for workers and for union movement. Likewise, improvement of wages and working conditions gained in IZs can gradually influence wages and working conditions across IZs and beyond IZs. But it does not happen automatically. It needs strong unions which are capable of representing voices of workers, independently from employers, through collective bargaining and through social dialogue.

He recalled ILO history to emphasize that without union champions, ILO was not created 100 years ago. How effectively union champions work to represent workers voices through collective bargaining and social dialogue will determine future of Vietnamese workers. Trade union champions are at the forefront of ILO/VGCL joint efforts for social justice, for protection of workers, and for shared prosperity.

After two regional workshops, the VGCL continued to take steps to prepare for the officially launch of this network. It is expected that the trade union champions network of the industrial zones will be established in two areas, the North and the South.