Improving working conditions through multi-company collective bargaining agreement for clothing suppliers in Vietnam

CNV Internationaal is developing a collective bargaining agreement together with workwear companies ETP, Groenendijk Bedrijfskleding, HAVEP and Tricorp for their supplier and other surrounding garment factories in Vietnam.

Working conditions Vietnam © CNV Internationaal/Annigje Jacobs & Brice Godard

The aim of the cooperation between the union and the companies is to establish a multi-company collective bargaining agreement (MC CBA): this contains agreements between employers and employees on improving working conditions in several factories in the same sector or industry in the region concerned. The process of social dialogue to reach the new agreement is also important. By organizing a permanent conversation between employer and employees, their mutual trust and cooperation increases.

The companies have been signatory to the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile (AGT) and found in their supply chain risk analysis that a lack of social dialogue in Vietnam is a risk when it comes to working conditions. ETP, Groenendijk Bedrijfskleding, HAVEP and Tricorp source from the same supplier in Vietnam. CNV Internationaal, also party to the AGT, is active in that country. The union and the companies have started a project to train and support the employer and employee representation in order to achieve a MC CBA. In this way they jointly use their influence for better working conditions. The Dutch companies carry out due diligence, which means that, among other things, they critically examine the effect of their own purchasing practice on the working conditions at their supplier and adjust these where necessary.

Training and support

The first phase of the project consists of several meetings with union representatives and the management of the factories to create support for the project. Subsequently a task force is set up with management and an employee delegation from every factory involved. They receive training in social dialogue and negotiation techniques. Then the process starts to come to a MC CBA with the identification of negotiating points (for example leave arrangements, 13th month), after which the negotiations start. During the entire process, employees are actively consulted, so that support for the results of the negotiations is guaranteed. The negotiation result is voted on and in the event of a positive result, it comes into effect.

Jeanet van der Stoel, CSR manager Groenendijk Bedrijfskleding: “Collaboration with Dutch companies ensures that we have a strong voice for better working conditions. By collaborating with CNV Internationaal, we can achieve direct impact both in the region and in the factory where we produce.”

Laura Koedijk, Sustainability Manager HAVEP: “We hope that by supporting this Multi-company collective bargaining agreement, we can strengthen the social dialogue, resulting in good agreements and better working conditions through the union for employees at our supplier and other factories.”

Isabelle de Lijser, Project Manager Asia CNV Internationaal: “CNV Internationaal facilitates various Multi-company collective bargaining processes in the garment industry and fish processing industry in Vietnam. For the first time, we are now involving a group of garment brands in such a process. This offers a unique opportunity for improving working conditions and social dialogue at the relevant factory and associated region where these parties purchase.”