VietNamNet Bridge – Salary for state employees has always been controversial in Vietnam. Though it has been discussed a thousand times there has not been a “revolution” on the topic.
Not all state employees have opportunities to “get” perquisites and not all of them work in the agencies where they can offer socialized services to earn extra fees. A number of state employees are struggling with stunted salary.
They are always out of money before the month ends. Many young employees dare not to get married, because they are afraid that they cannot support their families. They have to save every coin and to take on extra jobs to make ends meet.
VietNamNet gives you a insider’s view on the current lives of state employees.
Out of salary at the beginning of month
After 23 years, Mrs. T, 41, an employee at the office of the National Center for Hydrometeorology earns VND2 million ($100) a month. Before moving to this office, she was an observer of the Viet Bac Hydrometeorological Station.
T’s husband is a driver, who works at the same office and earns nearly VND2 million a month. The couple earns a total monthly salary of VND3.6 million ($180).
“I have two children and have to take care of my parents-in-law. I am lucky that my parents-in-law are still healthy and they have pensions. Our salary ($180) is only sufficient for two kids (9 and 6 years old),” Mrs. T said.
“At the beginning of the month, we are out of money. We have to borrow from my parents-in-law or my friends to cover unexpected expenses,” she added.
Mrs. H, after working for 20 years for a statistics agency in Hanoi, her salary is nearly VND3 million ($150) a month. Her husband retired early due to poor health and earns VND1 million ($50) a month. The couple and their two children live on a stunted income of VND4 million ($200).
She estimated: food expenses are between VND1.5-1.7 million ($70-85) (as the prices are rising continuously, spending for food may reach VND2.2 million/month); Fixed phone charge is VND100,000 ($5); VND150,000 for mobile charges; VND100,000 for gas; vehicle gas at VND200,000, VND300,000 for other things.
She paid school packages for her two children at the beginning of the year, but she had to pay around VND800,000 ($40) for their extra classes. The family can’t save a penny.
Mrs. H recalled: “Once our university class had a get-together after 20 years of graduation. Each member had to contribute VND300,000 ($15) for a party. After the party, my friends wanted to go to karaoke bar and each participant had to pay an additional VND200,000 ($10). I was very nervous and I had to make up a good reason to say goodbye to them. I tried my best to contribute VND300,000 to attend the get-together”.
Many state employees may see themselves in the stories of Mrs. T and Mrs. Ha because they have to face the burdens of daily life.
Despite financial difficulties, Mrs. T does not feel too bad because anyhow she has her own house. At T’s office, many state employees whose families are not based in Hanoi have to hire accommodations and their salary is only sufficient for accommodations.
Mr. Kien hires a very small room, which is very far from Hanoi’s center, but he had to pay VND1 million dong ($50) a month. The room is only 20sq.m and it has no space for his 14-month daughter to play but Kien have no alternatives because Kien and his wife earn a total of VND4 million a month.
They both work for a state-owned printing and publication company. “Our lives have become harder since we have had a baby,” Kien complained.
Though his parents-in-law induced the couple to bring their baby to visit them but Kien rarely saw his parents-in-law, who are living in the countryside, because after each visit, the couple had to stint themselves in everything.
VietNamNet’s survey with 770 state employees at five agencies in Hanoi shows that of 74 employees who were born before 1960 (nearly reach the retirement age), nobody earns a salary of over VND4 million/month. The oldest employee in the survey, 55, earns VND3.5 million/month.
Those who were born from 1960 to 1970 earn from VND2.3 to VND2.7 million per month. The figures are VND1.9 to VND2.4 million for the people who were born from 1970 to 1980.
Young employees (born after 1980) earn only VND1.45 to VND1.8 million/month.
Most of the survey attendants are normal staffs who work at agencies where don’t have extra services (museums, libraries, statistic and hydrometeorological offices, kindergartens, administrative bureaus).
It is said that the jobs of state employees are leisurely and stable and they have a lot of time to take care of their families. Their salary is lower than the common level but not low in comparison with their jobs.
State employees didn’t agree and said that because of the leveling mechanism, they didn’t want to try their best. The proof is that at state agencies where offer extra services, employees work very enthusiastically.
To be continued...