Ha Noi (Vietnam News/ANN) - Many workers in industrial zones and export processing zones in Vietnam have been forced to work overtime to confront the soaring prices of everyday necessities.
Minh Hien, a worker at the Thang Long industrial zone, said that most of her co-workers asked for overtime hours to increase their incomes.
In addition to working overtime at their regular jobs, many have found extra work outside such as offering motorbike taxi services.
Thu Huong, a worker in the Tu Liem industrial zone, never imagined she would become a motorbike taxi driver.
"When prices for everything from vegetables to rent soared, I and many other workers had to find ways to increase our income," she said, adding that she earned VND500,000 (US$25) per month to transport one of her neighbour's children to and from school each day.
"I have to wake up early every day and return home an hour later, but now I have more money to pay for rent, electricity and clean water," she said.
Thanh Long and his wife earn a combined VND4 million (US$200) per month as workers at the Noi Bai industrial zone. They each found part-time work to supplement their incomes. Long's wife earns an extra VND30,000 ($1.5) per day washing dishes at a rice restaurant when her shift at the industrial zone is over. Long performs quality control evaluations of light bulbs before they are packaged. He earns VND10,000 ($0.5) for every 100 bulbs he checks.
According to a recent report issued by the Ministry of Planning and Investment about the lives of poor people and workers, about 1.6 million people in 260 industrial zones and 15 economic zones were facing numerous difficulties because their salaries were not high enough to meet their basic needs.
The report also showed that the average salary for industrial zone workers was close to VND2 million ($100) a month, about 68 per cent of the national average.
Doan Thi Huu Nghi, deputy director of the Viet Hung Investment and Development Joint-stock Company in the Gia Lam Industrial Zone, said that the company strove to provide VND15,000 ($0.75) every day to each worker to cover lunch and rent expenses.
"Providing them with the support means we have less profit to re-invest in manufacturing," she said.
Nghi also said that she was worried every time the State mentioned anything about raising the minimum wage because that would put her company at risk of bankruptcy.
"Manufacturing costs increase daily while profits stay the same so we cannot provide any more support to our workers," she said.
The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs is putting the final touches on a project proposal centred on supporting worker demands for submission to the Government.
Under the project, workers would receive VND100,000 ($5) per month if they had no absences and did not make any mistakes, said Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Hai of the Gia Lam Labour Union
Many trade union officers said that support for workers not only came in the form of money to secure a standard of living, but also included things like accommodations, health care, kindergartens for their children and affordable essential goods.
Research on how much workers spent on accommodations, meals, health care and schooling for their children should be conducted to determine how relevant bodies could provide support, they said.
Workers should also be able to purchase food directly rather than through middlemen to help them reduce expenses, they said.