Is Vietnamese labor cost high or low?

VietNamNet Bridge – Office workers, unskilled laborers and state employees all complain that their salaries are so modest and cannot cover their basic needs.

Vietnam, minimum wage, labor force, investment, advantages

Workers like… extra working hours

According to Oxfarm, the organization that strives for the poverty reduction and fight for equality, Vietnam is not the only country in the world which has the low minimum wage. The salaries far below the subsistence wages have been reportedly provided in many other developing countries.

However, the problem lies in the skills and productivity.

An Oxfarm’s officer said that while in other countries, collective agreements are respected and workers can create value for their labor, Vietnamese workers only like working hard.

A survey conducted by Thoi bao Kinh te Vietnam in some industrial zones showed that Vietnamese workers at the factories would be willing to leave some factories for others which allow them to take extra working hours.

Nguyen Thi Mui, who was once a worker of a construction material enterprise in Bac Thang Long industrial zone, has decided to leave for a Japanese electronics company. The reason behind her decision is that at the old business, Mui only had 8 working hours per day, while she now can work up to 12 hours per day at the new enterprise. Mui likes working extra hours because she can earn more money to feed her family.

A worker of an electronics assembling factory in the Bien Hoa industrial zone in Dong Nai province also said she is happy with the job here, because she can have extra working hours and extra income. The worker’s fixed salary is VND2.4 million a month, but she can earn up to VND4 million if she has extra working hours.

An official of the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs has noted that the said workers don’t think that they need to improve their labor value by upgrading the skills and the productivity. If the worker from the electronics assembling factory in Bien Hoa City can do that, she would still be able to earn VND4 million a month, even if she works 8 hours a day only.

The official has warned that extra working hours would make laborers debilitated. If they work 8 hours a day, they would be able to work for 30-40 years. Meanwhile, if they work too hard, their service length would be 20 years only.

The lack of the skills for negotiations to reach collective agreements can also be seen in the fact that many Vietnamese workers have been relying on intermediate parties. According to Oxfarm, at Unilever, more than 50 percent of workers have been hired from a labor leasing company.

What do “subsistence wages” mean?

Not only unskilled workers, but office workers and intellectuals have also complained that the wages they receive from the employers cannot cover their basic needs.

However, Deputy Chair of the National Assembly’s Social Affairs Committee Bui Sy Loi said that up to 40 percent of officers at state agencies have been “sitting idle.” Though the workers cannot create any products, they still receive salaries from the state budget every day.

An official of the labor ministry has noted that since the officers have “nothing to do,” they spend most of their time at tea shops or private affairs during the working hours.

Local newspapers have recently reported that the secretary of the Quang Binh provincial party committee himself went to some café to find the officers who did not work during the working hours.


Vietnam, minimum wage, labor force, investment, advantages