EVFTA Chapter 13: social dialogue and collective bargaining

European Union - Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) Chapter 13th is dedicated to trade and sustainable development.

Its goal is to “promote sustainable development, notably by fostering the contribution of trade and investment related aspects of labour and environmental issues”. This chapter is based on several conventions and international agreements signed before.

Fundamental rights at work

The article 13.4 mentions labour law. It states that the parties commit to “promote and effectively implement the principles concerning the fundamental rights at work”, and especially the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining. 

These measures are part of Vietnam’s commitment towards international labour standards. In June 2019, Vietnam already ratified the Convention n°98 of the International Labour Organization (ILO) on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention. The Convention notably mentions: 

- the right for workers to enjoy adequate protection against acts of anti-union discrimination in respect of their employment,

- the right for workers' and employers' organisations to enjoy adequate protection against any acts of interference.



A new labour Code

To address these objectives, Vietnam launched in 2016 a reform of its Labour code. The new Code came into effect on the first of January 2021.

The Code notably recognizes the right for employees to form or join the trade union of their choice, not necessarily linked with the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL, the unique confederation of trade unions in Vietnam). 

The new article 175 also bans several precise behaviours to prevent employer’s acts of interference towards unions. For instance, the employer cannot refuse to sign a contract due to an affiliation with a union, cannot influence a union with funds, etc.

Within the scope of the EVFTA and the ILO Conventions, independent surveillance committees ensure, through recommendations, the enforcement of ratified texts*.

All these changes should lead to concrete outcome; the improvement of working conditions, the reduction of strikes and eventually increase the productivity of enterprises based in Vietnam

More recently, Vietnam ratified the Convention n°105 on abolition of Forced Labour and considers to ratify the Convention n°87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention.  

*Ratification is a procedure whereby a State agrees to recognize the Convention as binding and commit to enforce it. It follows the signature, whereby a State only recognizes a simple approval but no formal bonds. Within the scope of the EVFTA and the ILO Conventions, independent surveillance committee ensure, through recommendations, the enforcement of ratified texts.


© Article written by the France-Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIFV) thanks to discussions with Seán O’Connell, Rule of Law and Human Rights Officer of UNDP Viet Nam. Reproduction rights reserved.
UNDP Viet Nam have, together with the Ministry of Justice, conducted a Preliminary Assessment of the Regulatory Framework on Responsible Business Practice, which includes an assessment of the ratification of the EVFTA on labour rights in Viet Nam. For more information on UNDP’s work to advance responsible business practice in Viet Nam please visit their website.


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