Salary increases, whether big or small, mean a lot for workers, Nguyen Thi Lan Huong, director of the Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs, told Hai Quan Cuoi tuan (Hai Quan Weekend) newspaper.
People are worried that there will be no pay rise in 2015, as the State budget cannot allocate money for it. What's your comment about that?
I'm not surprised about that, as in the past few years due to the sluggishness of the national economy, the State budget has failed to meet society's demand. In 2012, National Assembly deputies discussed the topic several times.
Legally speaking, some groups of people should get pay rises such as pensioners, social beneficiaries, government officers and public employees. Their current salaries are too low for them to live decent lives.
As for enterprise employees, I agree it is important to increase their pay, yet at a rational rate, as enterprises are facing many difficulties. Our economy remains at the bottom, so we should not burden enterprises further.
Recently, the National Wage Council agreed to increase the minimum wage for workers at enterprises. In region 1, the monthly minimum wage will increase from VND2.7 million (US$128) to VND3.1 million ($147). For region 2, the minimum wage will go from VND2.4 million ($114) to VND2.75 million ($130). For region 3, it will rise from VND2.1 million ($100) to VND2.42 million ($115) and for region 4, it will increase from VND1.9 million ($ 90) to VND2.2 million ($104).
Salaries have not increased since 2013, directly affecting the lives of workers. What's your position on this?
In my opinion, a pay rise is a motivation for economic development. That's why it is important to use pay rises as a catalyst for national economic development.
Salaries of most public employees are already higher than the national minimum wage. That's why in my opinion, increasing the minimum wage is not the best solution. It will only benefit those whose salary is lower than the minimum wage.
However, from the point of view of an employee, any pay rise –small or large – is welcome! This idea has been endorsed by many enterprises. For workers, a pay rise represents employers' acknowledgement of their hard work throughout the year.
The State budget can't afford a pay rise for all workers. However, don't you think that certain groups deserve special treatment?
A key purpose of the minimum wage is to fight against poverty and to ensure minimum living conditions. So in my opinion, pensioners, social beneficiaries and those who live only on their salaries from the State budget should get a pay rise in 2015.
Do you have any suggestions for how the Government should solve this problem?
Well, the first thing Viet Nam should do is reform the State apparatus and reduce the number of Government employees. Public service administrative units should be converted to public units practicing self-finance.
Secondly, I think that civil servants deserve higher salaries. For public employees who work in schools or hospitals, the Government should apply the policy of self-financing.
It is high time to renew our thinking about pay rises. Before making the decision to give a pay rise, we have to know where the money will come from. Having an answer to this question is critical. — VNS