ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Vietnam council looks to increase minimum wage
Publication Date : 07-08-2013
An official ceremony yesterday marked the launch of Vietnam's National Wage Council, promising to play a key role in revising the minimum wage with the involvement of workers and employers.
The council has 15 members who are representatives from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, workers unions and employer organizations.
The council's priority at present is to propose the minimum wage adjustment for next year, said Pham Minh Huan, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, who is also the council's Chairman.
Since the actual adjustment is planned to be made by the beginning of 2014, the council will provide a submission three months prior to allow businesses time to prepare.
The council will replace indirect and separate consultations between the government and industrial relations parties, with direct consultation and consensus building on the regional minimum wage adjustment, said Huan.
Addressing the launching ceremony, Deputy Prime Minster Vu Van Ninh urged relevant state agencies to support council members.
He also urged localities to work closely with the council during its process of consultation.
Gyorgy Sziraczki, Director of the International Labour Organisation in Vietnam, called the new body "a tangible achievement" of Vietnam in moving towards sound and cooperative industrial relations.
"The council can improve the minimum wage setting mechanism using data and evidence, and at the same time, promote social dialogues and search for compromise, and hence industrial peace," he said.
The council will also enable workers and employers organisations to work more proactively in developing minimum wage proposals, he added.
Sziraczki also described the role of the government as "particularly critical", calling it the "institutional architect" of the over-arching framework under which wage deliberations are undertaken.
Sziraczki also said the government was an "information and statistics provider" and a "facilitator" in promoting dialogue and deliberation.
He expressed that the council's effectiveness will depend on the country's statistical capacity to support evidence-based dialogues, the capacity of worker and employer organisations to effectively participate in the work of the council and the enforcement of the regional minimum wages.
Chairman Huan said other countries in the region had shown the difficulties of reaching consensus in a council when members represented different interests.
Mai Duc Chinh, vice chairman of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour, said the confederation would make a submission to the government advocating a minimum wage based on statistics.
He said the most important objective of the council was to ensure the minimum wage met the minimum living standards of workers, adding that the current wage was only about 60 per cent.
He affirmed his support for a minimum wage that would compensate for inflation and gradually improve the living standards of workers.
He pledged the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour would collect statistics and conduct research into the minimum living standards.
"The demand of workers for food, non-food products and the needs to feed workers' children will be taken into consideration," Chinh pointed out.
The country's GDP and CPI index will also be considered in the minimum wage adjustment.
At present, Vietnam has four levels of minimum wage, ranging from 1,650,000 dong (US$78) to 2,350,000 dong ($111) per month. The wages differ across four regions according to their development and living standards.
Minimum wages in Vietnam have been an important basis in determining pensions and allowances for workers.