READOUT: Deputy Undersecretary of Labor Thea Lee visits Vietnam to resume labor dialogue; promote labor law reform, worker protections
WASHINGTON – Deputy Undersecretary of Labor for International Affairs Thea Lee visited Vietnam from Nov. 15 through 17, 2022, to resume a dialogue on labor issues that began in 2002.
During the visit, Lee met with Vietnamese officials, labor thought leaders and representatives of the private sector to help re-engage all of the parties involved in addressing the country’s labor issues. It marked the first visit to Vietnam by a senior U.S. Department of Labor official since 2016.
In Hanoi, the two governments held the U.S.-Vietnam Labor Dialogue, a summit that covered labor issues such as freedom of association and collective bargaining, child labor, digital upskilling and workplace safety and health. Deputy Undersecretary Lee and Vice Minister Lê Van Thanh represented their respective governments. Lee also met separately with the country’s Labor Minister Đào Ngọc Dung.
Vietnamese leaders committed to collaboration with labor experts in the U.S. and with the International Labor Organization in the country’s labor law reform efforts, and to resume annual dialogues with the department. The two parties also discussed strengthening the department’s technical assistance projects operating in the country. These projects focus on industrial relations, working women and child labor.
The labor dialogue started two decades ago. It is the longest-running labor dialogue the department has maintained with any nation.
“Being in Vietnam gave us a meaningful opportunity to discuss the challenges our nations face and the strategies in place to protect workers’ rights and promote decent work,” explained Deputy Undersecretary of Labor for International Affairs Thea Lee. “By continuing our strong partnership on labor rights in Vietnam, we can continue to promote inclusive economic growth and resilient supply chains.”
During the visit, Lee toured Thuan Phuong Group, a factory facility near Ho Chi Minh City where an ILO Better Work program funded by the department is helping to advance women into supervisory roles. The Deputy Undersecretary also met with U.S. businesses in Vietnam to learn about their efforts to pursue clean supply chains and facilitate independent and representative worker voice.