Last update 6/19/2012 12:11:07 PM (GMT+7)

Minimum wage insufficent: survey
VietNamNet Bridge – A survey conducted by the Institute of Workers and Trade Unions concluded that the average salaries of workers in 90 private companies in 10 cities and provinces, including Ha Noi and HCM City, are not enough for them to make ends meet.

Workers at an electrical equipment manufacturing company in Ha Noi. A survey conducted by the Institute of Workers and Trade Unions in 10 cities and provinces revealed that average salaries were not enough to make ends meet. (Photo: VNS)
The survey stated that 33.7 per cent of the workers have to work extra hours to have enough money to cover their family expenses. They either work extra hours for their companies or work other part-time positions to earn extra money.

Other numbers illustrate poor living conditions for these workers: over 60 per cent of them do not have the time or money to go to movies, concerts or travel, and 17.5 per cent do not have enough money to cover medical expenses.

Dang Quang Dieu, director of the institute said that there was a huge gap between the new minimum wage and the minimum living standard. The minimum wage of VND1.05 million (US$50) only accounts for around 55-60 per cent of the minimum living standard.

Therefore, workers have to find their own ways to save time for extra working hours and save money for their expenses. A tiny room with minimal living necessities can be the home of five or six low-income workers. These places usually have poor conditions, which worsen workers' health and productivity. Workers also have to consume low quality food, which further affects their health. Saving money by using wood stoves instead of gas or electric stoves is also a common thing for workers with low income.

A low income also means that workers do not have many choices for entertainment and social purposes. Only 56.6 per cent of workers surveyed said they use their free time to watch television, and 26.4 per cent read newspapers or browse the Internet in their free time.

Le Quang Nhan, a worker with two children in Thanh Xuan District, Ha Noi, said that he usually worked an extra 3-4 hours a day and only got back to his home at around 10pm after a 12-hour workday. This is the only way that he can afford to pay his children's school tuition and his family's living expenses. He hardly can save money for any purpose other than food, bills and transportation. Since he has to work extra hours so often, he usually spends more time at his workplace than he does at home.

Dieu also stated that low wages and poor working conditions have raised continuous concerns among workers. This has resulted in worker strikes in many companies. Workers have the right to quit jobs that do not satisfy their basic needs and work for other companies that offer better wages and working conditions. Forty-four per cent of workers, when asked, were not happy with their current salary, and 13.6 per cent wanted their working conditions to be improved.

According to Dieu, in order to have a stable and experienced work force, companies should propose adequate policies for wages, working environment, and good relationships among workers and between employers and workers. "We have proposed to the government that the minimum wage level should be reconstructed as soon as possible to match with the minimum living standard," he said.

VietNamNet/Viet Nam News