|Female rural labourers participate in a sewing class before being sent to work abroad in northern Bac Giang Province's Tan Thinh Commune. A number of labour export agencies have agreed to self-regulate their performance in a bid to improve their service and the security of migrant workers. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue
HA NOI (VNS)— An additional 30 agencies sending workers abroad have committed to self-regulate to promote protection of migrant workers.
The agencies will comply with the Code of Conduct (COC-Viet Nam), introduced by the Viet Nam Association of Manpower Supply (VAMAS) in 2010 and supported by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The voluntary instrument covers advertising, recruitment, training, contracts for Vietnamese workers abroad, dispute resolution and helping workers return to Viet Nam, said VAMAS Chairman Nguyen Luong Trao.
Although the mechanism does not replace the government's own ability to monitor, inspect and sanction agencies, it encourages companies to review and improve existing procedures.
"Businesses are ranked based on a criteria of business performance," he said.
Last year, a total of twenty companies – responsible for sending almost 30 per cent of Vietnamese workers abroad – volunteered to be part of the pilot phase that rated agencies according to their compliance with the COC-VN.
VAMAS ranked the firms into four groups: excellent, good, satisfactory and not satisfactory, Trao said. Eight of the firms were graded as "excellent".
With the additional registration of 30 more recruitment agencies, the evaluation will expand to a total of 50 agencies among 170 that operate in the country.
Trao said businesses implementing COC-VN could seek feedback from local departments of labours, invalids and social affairs on their progress.
Speaking at a workshop this year to review the implementation of the COC-VN, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Thanh Hoa said the COC-VN would encourage recruitment businesses to comply with national laws and international standards.
Companies can build a reputation in the eyes of workers and foreign partners while complying with best practice on labour export management and legal protection, he said.
Hoa urged relevant agencies to work closely with VAMAS to encourage licensed labour export companies to sign onto the COC-VN.
Co-ordinator of the ILO's GMS TRIANGLE project Max Tunon said "self-regulation tools could play an important role in enabling best practice in the recruitment industry, as they supplement and support Government regulations".
"This is particularly important for countries like Viet Nam, that are sending an increasing number of workers abroad," he said.
The benefits of the COC have also been recognised by recruitment agencies and workers.
Director of Ha Noi-based Labour Exporting and Training Co Ltd Bui Kim Son said the company had attracted more clients and partners since being ranked second among the 20 recruitment agencies.
"Our negotiations with international partners have also become easier now that they know we fully comply with the COC-VN," he said.
Pham Minh Toan, who used to work in the Republic of Korea, said he used to rely on personal sources to find information about working abroad, including friends, relatives and consultants from recruitment companies.
"However, it often made me confused because I was overwhelmed with information and risks were unavoidable," he said.
"But now, it is easier for workers who want to work abroad like me to choose qualified recruitment enterprises thanks to the COC-VN rating," he said.
Viet Nam is one of the few nations that have successfully introduced a Code of Conduct for recruitment agencies and could even be a good model for the region, said Max Tunon from the ILO.
"Looking ahead, it is important to increase the number of agencies in the ranking," he said, "and include an independent body to evaluate the companies objectively."
Around 80,000 Vietnamese workers are sent abroad each year, according to figures from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs. Approximately 500,000 workers are working abroad under contract in more than 40 countries. — VNS