Supply Chain Innovation

Enforcing Freedom of Association and Protecting Foreign Workers in Vietnam

Publication date: 
Monday, November 16, 2009

Issues: During a 2009 factory visit, FLA assessors found that foreign staff at a factory producing apparel for adidas Group and Nike, Inc. lacked required legal work permits. In addition, some printing department workers, who neither asked to leave nor signed a withdrawal notice, were compelled to leave the union without their consent. The union leader said most printing department workers did not wish to be involved in the union; therefore, they decided to drop these workers from the roster and stopped collecting their dues. Further, proper personal protective equipment was not provided for workers in certain departments, and the noise meter for measuring noise levels was not set correctly (instruction manual was in English only). The factory employed 2,275 people.

Solutions: Following the assessment, four foreign employees received work permits from the Department of Labor - Invalids and Social Affairs, from the local province. The factory established policies and procedures to guide foreign workers in obtaining work permits. In addition, the factory created a transparent procedure for employees to join or withdraw from the trade union. Now, all workers can join the union at any time and all trade union information can be found through bulletins and from supervisors/line leaders in the union who share outcomes from union meetings. Further, the factory conducted training for workers, including a specific training for printing workers, on freedom of association. Finally, a new policy was created regarding personal protective equipment. The noise meter has been set correctly and its instructions have been translated into Vietnamese. Training on the instructions has also been provided, and hearing tests were conducted for workers in noisy areas by doctors from the local Department of Health, Medical and Environment.

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