The new model of dialogue between employees and employers in factories, especially in garment factories have helped improve working conditions and the competitiveness of enterprises. Insight from Vietnam Economic News.

On September 7, 2012, 900 workers from Ando International, a women's garment manufacturer in Ho Chi Minh City, for the first time elected their representatives to attend regular meetings with the company’s management.

Every month, the representatives and the company’s trade union chairman met the company’s management to address issues related to labour standards and occupational health and safety (OHS) in order to tighten cooperation in the workplace.

More than a year after the new mechanism was applied, employee awareness of OHS and cooperation in the workplace at Ando International has significantly improved, said Ando International CEO Duong Thuy Tu.

Better Work Vietnam, a cooperative programme between the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has put into operation the Performance Improvement Consultative Committee (PICC) since 2009. Employee representatives are elected every two years.

Factories with a PICC have recorded significant progress in terms of working conditions, wages, welfare, occupational safety and hygiene and working hours. Both employers and employees have highly appreciated the PICC.

Vo Kim Long, who has been working for Ando International for six years, said that the company’s sewing workshop is now airy and tidier thanks to PICC, and that employee representatives who are PICC members now make it possible for workers like him to contact the company’s management.

PICC was established in almost all 200 garment factories engaged in the Better Work Vietnam program. The programme plays an important role in combining the interests of the private sector with the observance of Vietnam's law and international labor standards through training and evaluation of the level of compliance.

According to Labour Relations Development Promotion Centre Director Nguyen Manh Cuong, PICC is important not only because it makes it possible for employees to participate in addressing issues related to observance of labor standards but also is strong evidence of how a regular dialogue mechanism between employees and employers specified in the new labour code that took effect in 2013 can make a real difference.

Better Work Program Manager Tara Rangarajan said that required social dialogue mechanisms posed by PICC show that Vietnam is making efforts to create a difference in the international market by not only relying on low labor cost. Companies with PICC can reach long-term growth and construct a working environment meeting the requirements of international customers while maintaining competitiveness.

Better Work Vietnam reports indicate steady growth in plants applying a business strategy that focuses on developing harmonious labor relations. About 65 percent of factories participating in the Better Work Program saw their sales increase and 75 percent of factories participating in the programme received an increased number of orders.

Director Cuong said he believes that PICC has a greater importance and can even benefit the whole economy. If every business improves, the entire textile and garment industry will improve and the image of the national economy on the international market will also become better, he said.

Cuong said that PICC proved the Government's commitment to improving working conditions for workers in the context of international economic integration.-VNA