Ex­perts ar­gue over min­i­mum wage ad­just­ments

Viet Nam News - - National -

HAØ NOÄI — The process in­volved in ad­just­ing the min­i­mum wage of work­ers has re­cently been un­der a lot of scru­tiny from pol­icy mak­ers, pub­lic of­fi­cials and labour ex­perts.

While most agree that the gap be­tween the cur­rent min­i­mum wage and min­i­mum liv­ing stan­dards is un­ac­cept­able, the mech­a­nism for rais­ing the min­i­mum wage has been con­sid­ered un­sat­is­fy­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to re­cent re­search fromtheVieätNamCham­berofCom­merce and In­dus­try (VCCI), over the last­fewyears­them­i­ni­mumwage­has been reg­u­larly ad­justed, but still only cov­ers 60 per cent of min­i­mum liv­ing stan­dards.

The re­search also re­vealed that many en­ter­prises did not ap­prove of the cur­rent ap­proach to ad­just­ing the set wage, ar­gu­ing that it had neg­a­tively af­fected busi­ness op­er­a­tions, raised the costs of so­cial and med­i­cal in­sur­ance and re­duced com­pe­ti­tion.

While many agreed that the min­i­mum wage is low and not stim­u­lat­ing, they felt that the cur­rent sys­tem only ben­e­fits in­sur­ance agen­cies, not en­ter­prises and their em­ploy­ees.

Ngoâ Ñaïi Quang, deputy di­rec­tor of the Vieät Nam Leather and Footwear As­so­ci­a­tion, said the Govern­ment’s poli­cies of set­ting dif­fer­ent min­i­mum wage lev­els in dif­fer­ent re­gions and dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing be­tween pub­lic em­ploy­ees and en­ter­prise em­ploy­ees is un­fair and un­rea­son­able.

This is be­cause the min­i­mum wage serves as the ba­sis to de­ter­mine not only the salary of work­ers but also the com­pen­sa­tion and al­lowances that they are en­ti­tled to, he stressed.

He also pointed out that the pol­icy is af­fect­ing the nat­u­ral labour dis­tri­bu­tion be­tween re­gions.

ÑaëngQuangÑieàu, di­rec­to­rofthe In­sti­tute for Work­ers and Trade Unions, told the me­dia that the coun­try’s tar­get of set­ting the min­i­mum wage in line with the min­i­mum stan­dard is not fea­si­ble.

He said the in­crease in the min­i­mum wage in 2013 had al­ready fallen be­hind the tar­get ini­tially set; mean­ing in­creases in 2014 and 2015 must be very high to bridge the gap. That seems im­pos­si­ble con­sid­er­ing the dif­fi­cult eco­nomic con­di­tions, he pointed out.

Ac­cord­ing to Yoon Youngmo, chief tech­ni­cal ad­vi­sor on in­dus­trial re­la­tions from the In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­gan­i­sa­tion in Vieät Nam, al­ter­ing the min­i­mum wage has been per­ceived as the main mech­a­nism for ad­just­ing the ac­tual wage but in re­al­ity, it is no longer an ef­fec­tive mea­sure.

He ex­plained that most of the work­ers in large com­pa­nies al­ready re­ceive a wage that is much higher than the min­i­mum wage, while the low­est wage in rel­a­tively large com­pa­nies is al­ready higher than that as well.

“If the sit­u­a­tion and ca­pac­ity of larger com­pa­nies are used as the bench­mark, the re­sult­ing rate of in­crease may have a se­ri­ous im­pact on smaller com­pa­nies.”

Youngmo stressed the im­por­tance of putting the fo­cus on ad­just­ing the min­i­mum wage for the groups of work­ers who re­ceive the low­est wage in the whole labour mar­ket.

Leâ Xuaân Thaønh, deputy di­rec­tor oftheLabourandWageDepart­ment un­der the Min­istry of Labour, In­valids and So­cial Af­fairs, said 80 per cent of strikes last year were re­lated to dis­putes over wages.

Thaønh said there was a dilemma fac­ing the min­i­mum wage ad­just­ment pol­icy.

In par­tic­u­lar, if the min­i­mum wage is ad­justed ac­cord­ing to the ini­tial road map, strug­gling en­ter­prises will fail to fol­low.

He said that if it is raised to fully meet the liv­ing stan­dards of peo­ple this year then many en­ter­prises, es­pe­cially those em­ploy­ing a large num­ber of work­ers in the tex­tile and leather pro­duc­tion sec­tors, could even face bankruptcy.

“Com­pa­nies are al­ready strug- glingto­fol­lowthe­cur­rent­wa­gereg­u­la­tions and some have even had to de­lay pay­ment of salaries or evade in­sur­ance pay­ments,” Thaønh ar­gued.

He added that dur­ing the pe­riod 2008-12, the Govern­ment ad­justed the min­i­mum wage for pub­lic em­ploy­ees five times, while they changed it six times for em­ploy­ees at re­gional en­ter­prises.

“We have not had a set of cri­te­ria for min­i­mum liv­ing stan­dards, so min­i­mum wage ad­just­ment is mostly based on the national bud­get,” Thaønh said.

Buøi Syõ Lôïi, deputy di­rec­tor of the National Assem­bly’s Com­mit­tee for So­cial Af­fairs, said it was dif­fi­cult to raise the salaries of pub­lic em­ploy­ees while the national bud­get is limited and the num­ber of work­ers in pub­lic sec­tors is still in­creas­ing year af­ter year.

“If we want to raise the salaries, then we cer­tainly need to re­view the pub­lic per­son­nel and cut down on staff,” he pro­posed. —

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