|Nguyễn Thị Lan Hương, former Director of the Institute for Labour Science. Photo cand.com|
Nguyễn Thi Lan Hương, a labour expert and a former Director of the Institute for Labour Science, in the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs, talks to the newspaper Countryside and Agriculture about Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc’s decision to delay the pay rise for all public employees and Government officials in 2020
How do respond to the Government’s decision to temporary delay pay-rises for all the Vietnamese public employees and Government officials?
A pay-rise is what all workers wish for, yet because of the COVID-19, the people who have been least impacted by the pandemic are those who work in the public administrative offices. For other working groups, they have been seriously impacted by the pandemic and they desperately need Government support, both in kind and in cash. The nature of the Government’s decision is to “delay” the pay-rise until the situation eases then “give back the debt” to the wage earners is, principally speaking, a decision I support.
Do you think the pay-rise delay will have a negative impact?
During the pandemic, many people have seen their income drop steeply. Some people have even lost their jobs. So the wage earners should share their difficulties. My understanding is that leaders from many big Vietnamese corporations have voluntarily reduced their monthly salary or even chosen not to receive it to help corporations to quickly resume.
In short, I don’t think salary is everything. It is not a magic wand. Winning social support is more important.
How do you respond to the suggestion that the Government should only give a pay-rise to low wage earners this year?
I think this is a good suggestion, yet we have to think about it carefully. The concept of a pay-rise doesn’t mean to increase the subsidy ratio. Wage increases should go hand-in-hand with the increase in labour productivity and the improvement of the working people’s living conditions.
Việt Nam is successfully dealing with coronavirus. That’s why the Vietnamese economy will recover much faster than in other countries. So we should delay the pay-rise a little bit and not change the protocol for all wage earners.
We should also calculate carefully the amount of wage increase for different groups of people. The Ministry of Home Affairs should develop a plan for each group.
Do you think that the delay in the basic salary increase will impact the country’s salary reform plan?
All salary reforms take place in a normal context of the society. However, when there are some serious issues, the authorities must focus on solving the problems first. Salary rises must help develop the national economy, increase the market price, and increase social welfare.
If we talk about economic development, obviously our Vietnamese economy is now in the status of negativity or is developing very slowly.
If we talk about the price index, in reality the consumer price index in Việt Nam has not been changed much and regarding the issue of social welfare, we have done quite well in this domain.
The Government should follow the pay-rise scheme which has been approved by the National Assembly. I’m confident that Việt Nam’s economy will recover quickly when the pandemic is over. Right now what the Government should do is to give priority to the areas of business and production. When things return to normal, we’ll then speed up the process of our salary reform._VNS