At the second debate on regional minimum wage for next year, held by the National Salary Council in Hanoi yesterday, the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL), which represented employees, and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), which represented employers, failed to reach an agreement.
The VGCL called for an 8 percent increase from the current minimum wage while the VCCI proposed 5 percent.
Regional minimum wage rates are the base rates used for any arrangement between enterprises and employees on salary.
The wage rates are paid to employees who work under normal working conditions, meet monthly working hour standards and complete their obligations for agreed work duties.
Vietnam currently has four regions ranked according to the socio-economic development level of each region. Region I includes the large districts and towns of Hanoi, Hai Phong, HCM City and Dong Nai, as well as Binh Duong and Ba Ria-Vung Tau
Since January 1, 2017, the regional minimum wage rate applicable for employees working for enterprises in Region I is VND3,750,000 per month, in Region II is VND3,320,000 per month, in Region III is VND2,900,000 per month and in Region IV is VND2,580,000 per month. The rates are 7.3 percent higher than in 2016.
VCCI Vice Chairman Hoang Quang Phong said the 5 percent increase proposal was made based on assessing more than 30 associations representing employers.
Increasing the regional minimum wage would lead to higher production costs for businesses, he said.
Experts said the current minimum wage met only 95 percent of workers’ needs for basic living costs but no country has a minimum wage that meets basic standards of living for workers, he claimed.
If the minimum wage rose too high, it would add to businesses’ burden, he said. Businesses would have to restructure, which would result in some workers losing their jobs, he said.
Most enterprises still have difficulties, particularly those employing a huge number of workers such as textiles, garments, footwear and electronic enterprises, which would be greatly impacted by the regional minimum wage increase, Phong added.
A minimum wage increase should not only meet labourers’ basic living costs, but also ensure the development of enterprises, he said.
Mai Duc Chinh, Vice Chairman of VGCL, said 2017 recorded better socio-economic development than 2016 so there was no reason for a low increase of regional minimum wage at 5 percent.
He added that the regional minimum wage increase for 2018 should not be lower than 2017’s figure of 7.3 percent.
The increase of 5 percent was only enough to offset currency depreciation, he said.
Deputy Minister of Labours, Invalids and Social Affairs Doan Mau Diep, also Chairman of the National Salary Council, said there were still two options on regional minimum wage increase for 2018. The two sides should continue discussing to reach a consensus on the increase for the final meeting scheduled for August 7 to submit to the Prime Minister for consideration.
If the two sides don’t reach an agreement on regional minimum wage increase at the final meeting, a vote will be held among participants of the final meeting to select one option, he said.
The National Salary Council will not make the decision as the negotiation process aims to improve the living conditions of workers while ensuring competitiveness of enterprises.