Current minimum wage poses difficulties for workers
  • By Phuong Thao | | November 18, 2011 08:07 AM
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Vietnam’s current minimum wage remains too low, failing to meet basic living costs, said National Assembly deputies at a discussion on the Labour Code on November 16.

 Female workers eat frugally
Deputy Dang Thuan Phong from Ben Tre Province said the current minimum salary only accounted for 60% of basic living costs, despite the recent salary rises.

Deputy Nguyen Van Khanh from Dong Nai Province pointed out that workers with a monthly salary of VND1.5-VND2 million (USD71.7-USD95.7) would only be able to afford a lunch of water morning glory and tofu. They are also compelled to share rooms between four or five people.

Deputy Bui Thi An from Hanoi reported on the difficulties that state employees are facing. A new graduate with a salary of around VND2 million per month would find it impossible to live in city. Average living costs amounted to VND500,000 (USD23.9) for accommodation and VND300,000 (USD14.3) for petrol.

According to Dang Ngoc Tung, President of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour, many Vietnamese enterprises offer subsidies of VND500,000 (USD23.9) for staff who work 30 days per month. “Despite varying in names, whether described as subsidies or bonuses, this money tops up salaries. But this is a way that companies evade taxes”.

Tung proposed adjusting the minimum wage based on the annual consumer price index (CPI).

Proposal to raise extra working hours stirs controversy

The proposal to raise overtime to a maxim 360 hours per year from a current 200 hours also faced different opinions from deputies.

Deputy Nguyen Trung Thu from Long An Province said this would help improve competitiveness and increase incomes. He, however, added that this must be attached to basic salary improvements.

According Deputy Bui Xuan Thong from Dong Nai Province, overtime pay did not exceed the 1.5 fold increase over normal hours. He said this is unreasonable for labourers and benefited employers who were exploiting existing staff in an effort to avoid employing more workers.

Overtime pay should be 2.5 times higher than normal hourly rates, he suggested.

Meanwhile, Deputy Nguyen Xuan Ty from Ben Tre Province said increasing extra working hours was a way for employers to exploit their staff, and instead proposed reducing overtime.

Deputy Ho Van Nam from Dong Nai Province said, “I am afraid that increasing overtime regulations will affect the personal life of female workers, particularly those in foreign-invested firms.”


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