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VietNamNews

Labour federation calls for higher wages

Update: October, 07/2015 - 08:43
The Viet Nam General Federation of Labor (VGCL) on Monday proposed a new minimum wage increase of 14.4 per cent for the 2016 year, higher than the 12.4 per cent increase decided by the National Wage Council back in September. — Photo baothuathienhue.vn

HA NOI (VNS) — The Viet Nam General Federation of Labor (VGCL) on Monday proposed a new minimum wage increase of 14.4 per cent for the 2016 year, higher than the 12.4 per cent increase decided by the National Wage Council back in September.

The federation stood firm by the argument that the country's workers were entitled to a minimum wage increase at least equal to the previous year, roughly 14 per cent. They said that, especially with positive signs in the economy's first nine months of this year, wages should reflect next year's promising outlook.

The 14.4 per cent increase was also justified by pointing to this year's 0.5 per cent year-on-year increase in GDP growth, projected to be 6.5 per cent. VGCL argued that wages should increase along with the GDP. For comparison, in 2013, GDP grew only by 5.4 per cent and yet wages increased by 17.3 per cent.

In addition, 19.9 per cent of the country's workers said they could not meet basic living standards with their current wages, 72 per cent said they could barely make ends meet and 8.0 per cent said they managed very little savings.

The survey also pointed out that 62 per cent of workers had to work over-time shifts to afford basic living needs and that it prevented them from participating in cultural, relaxation and self-improvement activities.

Regarding employers' ability to pay, VGCL said tax agency reports indicated that a majority of employers across the country were already paying wages at 20-40 per cent higher than the minimum wage. Many, they argued, therefore wouldn't be affected by the increase.

"A large number of employers were already paying workers between VND4.4 million to VND4.9 million (US$195-220) in monthly wages in big cities such as Ha Noi and HCM City- that's higher than our proposed increase," said VGCL Vice President Mai Duc Chinh at a VGCL meeting in August.

VGCL also urged businesses to invest in technology and improve management capacity to increase productivity, rather than using low-productivity as an excuse to delay minimum wage increases.

"While workers do play a key role in improving productivity, it's not reasonable to expect them to help if minimum wage does not allow them to meet minimum living standards," said VGCL's proposal submitted to the Prime Minister.

The proposal also said that the 14.4 per cent increase would help the VGCL and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs honour agreements with the International Labour Organisation.

The National Wage Council must resettle the matter after the VGCL and the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), which represents the business sector's interests, failed to reach a consensus after multiple meetings. — VNS

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