Vietnam's Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) on Wednesday said it plans to set up a project to improve conditions for shoe workers.

The programme will educate workers in all aspects of health, job security, dust treatment and labour laws and will be run by the Vietnam Footwear Industry Business Links Initiative (VBLI).

VBLI is a joint venture between the chamber and the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF). It is sponsored and supported by the UK government and international sport shoe companies including Adidas-Salomon, Nike and Pentland.

The project also involves nearly two dozen ministries and industries and non-governmental organisations and aims to improve workplace conditions for the estimated 500,000 people in the shoe and leather industry who come into regular contact with poisonous chemicals and other hazards.

"Employee health and skills and business effectiveness are what the Vietnam Footwear Industry Business Links Initiative (VBLI) aims at," a VCCI official told the Saigon Daily Times.

"They (the workers) will learn more about work safety and protection when their employers observe the VBLI conditions."