Current wages and solutions towards Living wages in Viet Nam garment industry
18:04:07 18/04/2019

The 20-year report of Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour that surveyed 150 factories and in-depth interviewed over 2,000 workers revealed that basic salary of workers is 4.67 million VND, not including allowances, shift meals and overtime. In the survey, the workers of garment industry receive the lowest average basic salary at 4.225 million/month. While income of employees in 20 large enterprises who has got orders from big brands can be up to 7 million VND/ month according to statistics of the Textile and Apparel Association, at processing enterprises the income is much lower. Life of majority of textile workers remains difficult. Most workers want to work overtime because basic wages are not enough. A brief clip interviewed workers made by CDI brought a closer look insight.

On April 11, 2019 in Ha Noi, CDI in collaboration Oxfam in Vietnam and Fair Wear Foundation held policy advocacy workshop “Current wages and solutions situation of income of workers in garment industry. “Current wages and solutions towards Living wages in Viet Nam garment industry”. The workshop is a forum for stakeholders: businesses, brands, workers’ organizations and policy makers to discuss and find out solutions towards a living wage for workers in garment industry so that they can live on wages.

Before the discussion, participants were invited to see the short piece of film showing workers’ lives managing within the basic wage. Trying their best to make ends meet by minimizing to the very basics is the general situation of most workers while their income meets over a little bit 60% of minimum demand. Why do garment workers are entitled to such low wages? Many reasons were then shared by participants such as the low starting wage that even cannot meet daily needs after an annual increase; annual increase has not caught up with the reallife demand and slippage of the the market; limited capacity of Vietnamese workers which focussed on simple processing production; a number of enterprises in Viet Nam still take cheap workers as a competitive opportunity leading to a narrowed remuneration and capacity building for workers… From government side, wage policy is slow to change and make ends meet. Violations of labor laws in enterprises in wage payment and overtime have not been controlled due to lack of inspection forces. Wage negotiations are mainly based on common agreement between workers and employers: while employees are always vulnerable, employers hold more advantages in wage deals; participation of labor unions are often not strong enough.

Manager of the Fair Wear Foundation’s in Viet Nam, Mrs. Annabel Meurs shows more clearly on the global perspective: “There are many reasons for paying an unliving wage for workers and their families, in detaied the productivity, undeveloped collective bargaining, as a global competitive industry, fragmented responsibility of brands with various production places or a brand who work for a number of labels; One of the important reasons is that brands are not involved in wage calculation and labor costs are not included in the price negotiation process.”

Mrs. Annabel Meurs gave a speech at the workshop

A seminar of stakeholders from the state, the Federation of Labor and social organizations on labor rights deeply analyzed the role of stakeholders in deciding wages for workers. In particular, in addition to the public salary policies updates, the commitment of brands in living wage decision is essential but yet focused on. From the employees, improving skills and production capacity is an essential condition to enhance salary negotiation opportunity. From the management agency, monitoring wage policies enforcement by enterprises and brands is now considered as an effective to tighten the role of management agencies in protecting workers right.