HANOI (Vietnam News/Asia News Network): As prices surge, labourers are not only hoping for a pay rise but also an increase in additional allowances in order to relieve some of the growing financial pressure.
A worker’s monthly income usually consists of the base salary, overtime pay and allowances.
Đỗ Thị Thu Hoài, an employee in Phú Thọ Province, said: “I have been working at this company here for five years, but the allowances have remained the same for me.
“I see that several other companies provide an amount for accommodation support, but here we don’t receive any.”
Each month, she receives her base salary of VNĐ4.4 million (US$188), alongside the allowances of VNĐ300,000 for diligent attendance, VNĐ150,000 for fuel charges, and VNĐ30,000 for female employees.
There was an allowance for employees with children of VNĐ100,000 ($4.30) per month, but this no longer exists, she said.
She added that not only have these amounts remained unchanged throughout the years, but they also follow a very strict policy.
The allowance for diligence, for example, can only be given if the employee has perfect attendance in that month. If they come in late for 15 minutes or need to go outside for one hour, that would be a VNĐ100,000 deduction each time.
If they do not come to work for two days in a month, this attendance allowance will be subtracted completely.
Hoài said: “If my children are sick and I have to take two or three days off to take care of them, but without a leave of absence, then all of the allowances for attendance and fuel are gone.”
Hoài’s income in a month totals VNĐ6.3 million ($270), including overtime pay. Her husband works as a driver and receives around VNĐ8 million ($342) per month.
The couple have had to tighten their belts to make ends meet and put their two children through school.
Nguyễn Thị Thu, a factory worker in Bắc Ninh Province, is in the same situation.
She receives around VNĐ1 million ($43) in allowances each month, in addition to her base salary of VNĐ4.2 million ($180).
Thu said: “Each month we receive VNĐ500,000 for full attendance and VNĐ200,000 for fuel charges.
“If an employee works here for long enough, they can receive an accommodation allowance – VNĐ100,000 per month at the six-month mark, and VNĐ300,000 at the one-year mark.”
For Thu, two days off without a leave of absence also means no additional pay for diligent attendance and fuel charges.
“In total, my highest monthly income is VNĐ8 million.”
“There are also months when we don’t have enough work to do and have to work on a shift rotation basis, then my monthly income drops to VNĐ4.6 million,” said Thu.
Her husband, working at the same company, faces a similar situation.
According to Phạm Thị Thu Lan, deputy director of the Institute for Workers and Trade Unions (IWTU), a recent survey shows that the average monthly base salary is VNĐ4.5 million, with professional allowances ranging from VNĐ250,000 to VNĐ2 million, along with VNĐ480,000 for full attendance.
Speaking to Lao Động (Labour) newspaper, Lan said: “With the aforementioned range, the amount paid by the employer could vary.
“Workers can take a few days off and lose the entirety of their attendance pay that month.”
Some companies even take into account overtime work and productivity in these allowances. However, this is an employer’s right and there is no specific regulation regarding the matter.
Lan said: “The only way to go is negotiation. The labour unions need to strengthen their role in collective bargaining to include more favourable terms, including allowance amounts, for employees in the collective labour agreement.”
She added that if the terms on allowances are in the collective labour agreement then the company is obliged to follow them.
However, if the regulations on these additional pays are only in the company’s management rulebook then the execution decision lies with the employer.