Associate Professor Dr. Nguyen Van Trinh, deputy head of the institute, said that for the last ten years, workers’ academic level, professional level, working skills as well as political awareness have been improved. Besides, working condition at enterprises has moved up.
However, workers’ income is still low while the prices of most essential goods have increased. Their income is unable to meet the minimum standard of living although they have worked overtime. Therefore it is very difficult for workers to accumulate money to buy houses or improve their life.
Mr. Le Van Thanh from the institute said that the number of workers has quickly increased in the city approximating 2.2 million now. However the life quality of the majority of workers especially immigrants is very low, they are living in cramped quarters. There have been no data on the number of workers subject to poor households.
According to Mr. Thanh, there are eight norms on the life quality of workers. Of these, income and housing are the two important. Workers’ fixed salary must reach VND6 million (US$258.53) a month to ensure stable life. At the moment, it is very difficult for workers to own a house in the city so the state should have preferential policies for them to live in clean, safe and hygienic rental rooms with rental not exceeding 30 percent of their income and area averaging 10 square meter a person.
Mr. Thanh emphasized the need of having specific and efficient solutions to improve the life quality for workers.
Delegates at the conference also referred to other problems such as the quality of mid-shift meal and few spiritual activities for workers. In addition, workers’ study to improve working skills has not been facilitated while their salary, social and health insurance benefits have been infringed. Unsafe working environment has also affected the life quality of workers in the city.
Mr. Tran Cong Khanh, head of head of the labor management office at the HCMC Export Processing and Industrial Zone Authority, said that the city government has paid attention to improving the life quality for workers. Specifically they have permitted implementation of five types of utility works including dormitories for workers, kindergartens and subsidized stores, health clinics and collective kitchens. Still these utilities have just met part of workers’ demand.
So far the city has 16 dormitory projects providing 22,000 accommodations put into operation, seven under construction and expected to be built next year. In addition 18 kindergartens have come into operation in industrial parks and export processing zones, two others are about to break ground. There are 11 supermarkets and subsidized stores for workers put into operation.
The Labor Union in HCMC has also carried out activities to take care of workers’ material and spiritual life and raise their political awareness through programs to build dormitories, low interest loans and financial assistance for them to overcome difficulties, do their own business and increase income.
Every year, the union organizes a program providing workers free of charge bus tickets to return to their hometowns for Tet celebration. Activities to take care of workers’ children have been increasingly plentiful and proved efficiency.