HA NOI — Many employees of State-owned firms in Ha Noi have started online businesses to earn extra money to supplement their monthly wages in order to improve their life amid skyrocketing price hikes.
Truong Thu Duong, 36, has a full-time job working for a newspaper published by the Viet Nam Union of Science and Technology Association. She earns a stable income, but one year ago she decided to start selling clothes with foreign fashion labels to help cover living expenses.
"The monthly income of my full-time job is just enough to live in the most economical way, especially since prices keep going up. I need more money for my kids and for my own personal hobbies," she said.
Duong can't leave her office from 8am to 5pm so she has chosen to sell products online for those who are too busy to go around shopping. Along with a friend, she has created a fashion blog with images and information about her products which they post on several shopping websites.
"The additional work is not as simple as I had expected. It takes all of my free time during weekends. I even take advantage of early mornings or late evenings to ship products to clients," she said.
But she admitted that the busier she was, the more money she earned.
Duong is not alone. Le Hong Dien, an accountant for a garment company in Ha Noi, earns between VND3-5 million (US$150-250) per month selling shredded meat online.
Her products, which are primarily for elderly people and kids, are typically purchased by working women who prefer quality and hygienic ready-to-eat food. After six years in the online business and a crowded network of clients on several websites, Dien now plans to expand her business nation-wide.
"Online customers are very careful. Even one piece of negative feedback could impact the whole business. So every process, from purchasing materials, processing and packaging must be done carefully," she said.
In a recent conference held to discuss the salary of employees at State-owned firms held by the Ministry of Finance, economic experts said actual wages for employees in State-owned firms were low and only met 65 per cent of their basic living costs.
Globally, salaries played an important role in people's lives, accounting for 90 per cent of employees' total income. In Viet Nam, the figure ranged between 30 and 100 per cent depending on their positions. Many people complained about low wages and there had been a negative impact on workplace efficiency, they said.
Dien said her boss, Trinh Thi Thu Lan, knew about her additional career and was okay with it ‘as long as all her work at the company was completed on schedule'.
"Employees who fail to complete their work will have their monthly wages or even bonuses decreased," she said, adding that she always prioritised her main job.
Nguyen Minh Phong, head of the Ha Noi-based Institute for Social Development Studies' Economic Research Unit said the trend of taking on extra jobs and working flexibly was popular throughout the world.
In Viet Nam, employees of State-owned firms have found extra work as one solution to improve their lives as wages are swallowed up by price hikes, and the internet is an effective tool for them to do so.
Although some people with extra work, like Duong, receive complaints from relatives who claim they should spend more time on family activities, she said the trade had improved her income and brought new relationships and a lot of fun.
"I can send my kids to an English course or buy myself a handbag without hesitating about it as I did before," she said. — VNS