Blog: Annabel in Vietnam

FWF’s Annabel Meurs just returned from a 4 day visit to Hanoi where she met with local staff, unions and workers.

‘The nice thing about travelling for FWF is that these trips are usually packed with the greatest variety of experiences. I found myself in completely different settings in just a few days; from a trade dinner at the Hilton hotel to visiting workers’ homes, together with a trade union.

The meeting with the provincial trade union started with exchanging treats; me pepernoten and stroopwafels and them green bean cake. After gaining more insight into each other’s work and sharing the latest developments in the garment industry, they took me to the living areas of workers.

Extremely dark

In contrast to the factories near the cities, migrant workers here do not usually stay in dormitories. They rent rooms of local house owners, staying with 2 or 3 people in one room to cut costs. To me the rooms seemed extremely dark and cramped but according to one of our auditors, the conditions here are slightly better than in the dormitories.

Together with the Dutch embassy we had organised a factory visit for the mayor of Amsterdam the next day. Me and auditor Viet Anh guided the delegation through a work wear factory that supplies one of our affiliates. We were welcomed with great respect: banners with welcoming texts and Dutch flags were put up all over the place.

WEP in Vietnam

Luckily I could also spend a fair amount of time with FWF’s local complaints handler and trainers. In the fall, FWF piloted the Workplace Education Programme in Vietnam, to train workers on their rights. The team shared some interesting feedback and left me with a positive impression. The interactive training programme is starting to pay off.

Vietnam is becoming an increasingly important garment exporting country, also for European brands. FWF activities are growing in Vietnam, I’m happy to be part of that. Already looking forward to my next trip.’

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