How do you transfer Danish working culture and Danish employees rights to a factory in a country where good salary and good working conditions are not often seen. Read here how MASCOT has got the 15,000 m2 large factory up and running and how the company is often highlighted by European Labour Market Experts as a good example.
In March 2008, when MASCOT opened its own factory in Northern Vietnam 50km from Hanoi, social responsibility was already a natural driving force in the organisation. The organisations Managing Director, Michael Grosbøl explains:”It is important for MASCOT not only to create value for the organisation but also for the society we operate in. We do this, particularly, by acting as a responsible citizen and to secure stability in the operation and being a good employer for the employees.”
MASCOT works closely with the local communities in the Hai Duong province where MASCOT’s factory is located and is the first foreign company to have a bonded warehouse in Vietnam. MASCOT employs approx. 700 employees in the production of MASCOT’s products, quilt production, running the of raw material warehouse and administration. The Managing Director of the Vietnam factory is Thomas Bo Pedersen, who has, as former Head of Business Department at the Danish Embassy in Hanoi, a good knowledge of Vietnam and its citizens. “Overseas investment has risen dramatically in Vietnam in the recent years and there are now many good job opportunities for the Vietnamese. To attract and retain skilled labour it is very important for MASCOT to be amongst the best employers and create a good working environment for the employees”.
One concrete initiative MASCOT has put in place is the employment of their own Doctor and Nurse who are both full time employees within the factory’s own Doctors Surgery. In addition to treatment the employees can get advice on health and disease prevention. Recently MASCOT held an information meeting for all employees about AIDS and how the widespread disease in Vietnam can be avoided. A well known AIDS activist was invited to the meeting,and told their own personal story about the effect of AIDS and how the disease can be avoided. This caused some attention in the media as MASCOT was the first company in Hai Duong to have taken this initiative. It even received Vietnamese TV coverage.
In addition to the preventative health measures, MASCOT has made an number of initiatives to attract and retain skilled workers. The employees at the factory in Vietnam are offered a good salary and an eight hour working day unlike the long hours often worked in, for example, Chinese Factories. Furthermore, employees get good healthy food in the cantine, paid maternity leave and membership of a union. “Employee benefits in our factory in Vietnam can be seen as par for the ourse to those employed in Europe, but the situation is entirely different in Vietnam and our working conditions make MASCOT an attractive working place for Vietnamese.” Concludes Thomas Bo Pedersen.
Last year, MASCOT received a special award from Hai Duong province and the Vietnamese Minstry for Planning and Investments as a foward thinking organisation amongst private investors in Vietnam. MASCOT’s strong efforts towards preventative heath and safety measures and the company’s working conditions and salary levels were all noted. “We are often named as a great example by Vietnamese, Danish and overseas labour market experts. Relocation of production facilities to lower waged countries should not be done at the expense of fundamental social rights. MASCOT therefore, works hard on their Corporate Social Responsibility and has a special Code of Conduct for our suppliers and manufacturers”, said Thomas Bo Pederson. Danish Trade Unions have also seen the company and the factory in Vietnam and has been visited by LO/FTF’s Joint Committee together with 3F Silkeborg. Both organisations expressed recognition of the company’s efforts towards Corporate Social Responsibility.
MASCOT also has a good reputation as a collaborator. The company’s Code of Conduct is mainly directed at the firm’s suppliers around the world who must adhere to MASCOT’s rules in terms of the environment, occupational health and human rights. MASCOT’s suppliers must comply with applicable laws and regulations and production facilities must be of a certain standard and not pose a health risk for employees. Child labour is strictly forbidden and MASCOT’s own inspectors must have access to check the suppliers working conditions.
In January, the Vietnamese celebrated Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. Employees enjoyed two weeks holiday from production at MASCOT. Many Vietnamese companies experience 20 – 30% of workers not turning up after these holidays as many Vietnamese workers use these holidays to find new work. MASCOT only had 3 workers not showing up for work after the holiday. The Group’s Managing Director Michael Grosbøl saw that as a healthy sign: “We see it as a big pat on the back and a healthy sign for the MASCOT organisation in Vietnam. Social Responsibility is not coincidental and only used when problems arise. It is an ongoing process that must continuously be transformed into action. We must maintain good business ethics and adapt Danish employee benefits into Vietnamese conditions”, ends Michael Grosbøl.