New Trade Agreement Vietnam without labour rights monitoring - CNV Internationaal

New EU Free Trade Agreement with Vietnam is missing an adequate monitoring mechanism for labour rigths

Today the European Parliament has approved the Free Trade Agreement with Vietnam. “Serious challenges remain regarding rights for the workers, although in the process towards this agreement the situation definitely has improved,” comments CNV Internationaal president Anneke Westerlaken. “We still have serious concerns about the monitoring of the labour rights situation in Vietnam, as the Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) chapter of the EU-Vietnam FTA does not contain a mechanism to effectively enforce an obligation to respect the newly ratified conventions in law and in practice.” 

To maintain these TSD chapters, an independent domestic advisory body is needed in both Vietnam and Europe (a so-called Domestic Advisory Group DAG), CNV Internationaal emphasizes. "Trade union organizations must be represented there, so that they can demand investigation if there is a violation of fundamental labour standards," says CNV International President Anneke Westerlaken.

“From our experiences with similar processes, such as the EU trade agreement with Colombia, we know that this is often no more than a symbolic institution. To be effective, trade unions and other social organizations must also be represented. Such a monitoring mechanism is required to be able to effectivily hold companies responsible for violations of labour and human rights."

Freedom of association and gender equality
In the framework of the Strategic Partnership for Garment Supply Chain Transformation, CNV Internationaal has been actively advocating for improvements of the Vietnamese Labour Law in the area of wages, social dialogue, collective bargaining, freedom of association and gender equality.

Vietnam’s recent ratification of fundamental ILO Convention 98 on the right to collective bargaining, is a very important step prior to the recently adopted new Labour Code. Vietnam also expressed its commitment to ratify two remaining fundamental labour Conventions: on the abolition of forced labour (105) and freedom of association (87) in 2023.

About CNV Internationaal strengthening social dialogue in Vietnam

CNV Internationaal together with our Vietnamese partner trade union VGCL and the employers’ organisations VCCI and VITAS have been providing support for textile factories to initiate social dialogue process towards multi company collective bargaining agreements using bottom-up approach. 

Last july 2019, the first ever multi-company collective labour agreement in textile sector was concluded in Vietnam. It improves working conditions for more than 4,000 textiles employees in 5 garment factories in Van Lam district, Hung Yen province, west of Hanoi. The initiative has been scaled up in Hung Yen province with 15 other textile factories.

Meanwhile, a similar process to introduce social dialogue at factory level has started in Ho in South Vietnam (Thu Duc, Tan Binh districts of Ho Chi Minh City and Trang Bom district in Dong Nai province). So far, 8 and 4 garment factories respectively from Thu Duc and Tan Binh are working on bottom-up social dialogue process and other 9 textile factories in Trang Bom have agreed to join the project. 

These projects are developed as part of the Fair Wear Partnership for Garment Supply Chain Transformation, an innovative programme to improve labour conditions in the garment industry by Fair Wear Foundation, CNV Internationaal and Mondiaal FNV, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The partners aim to demonstrate how it is possible to move towards living wages, constructive social dialogue and reducing gender based violence, by developing practical solutions to key problems in garment supply chains. 

Publication date: 2020-02-12

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