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Economic slowdown prolongs substandard work conditions

Update: May, 09/2014 - 08:07
A guest house area for workers in Cot Village, Ha Noi. Enterprise and factory workers in the city are struggling with low incomes and dangerous working environments prolonged by the economic downturn. — VNS Photo Doan Tung

HA NOI (VNS) — Workers of enterprises and factories in Ha Noi are struggling with low incomes and dangerous working environments as the economic downturn continues to hurt, a senior labour official says.

Tran Van Thuc, President of the Ha Noi Confederation of Labour, was cited in a recent Viet Nam News Agency report as saying the economic slump that began several years ago is still exerting strong impacts on workers in the city.

He noted that in 2013, almost 11,000 enterprises closed down, resulting in 24,000 people losing their jobs.

Despite the Government's annual adjustments, the average wage was VND3 million per month (US$145) at present, which can only meet 76 per cent of the minimum spending standard, and is not commensurate with the workers' efforts and time spent on their job, Thuc said.

There are enterprises where the pay is so low that workers have no motivation to do their job better, he said.

Meanwhile, enterprises have been very slow in improving the working conditions for those who are directly involved in production. The use of outdated and backward technology and equipment, heavy-duty work and unhealthy environments are still common in the city.

Workplace accidents, occupational hazards and work-related ailments continue to happen in a "complicated" manner, Thuc said.

"A more pressing issue is that labour violations, especially by private enterprises, are rampant. These have to do with working hours, timely payment of wages, collective rights, social insurance and unemployment insurance."

Workers in the capital city also face of serious lack of housing, with municipal policies only meeting a fraction of the demand, Thuc said.

While there are more than 1.2 million workers in the capital city, just 15,000 stay in houses or apartments provided by the city and enterprises. The majority have to rent their accommodation – which is often below minimum standards.

There is still an acute shortage of kindergartens, health clinics and entertainment centres for workers and their children.

Thuc said the city's trade unions are working with relevant agencies to resolve the situation so that by 2020, 90 to 95 per cent of the city's workers will have stable accommodation, as well as kindergartens and schools for their children.

"Trade unions at different levels will also help workers become better aware of their legal rights," Thuc said.—VNS

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