Vietnamese legislators say workers are struggling to survive on low wages because the minimum salary has not been adjusted to keep pace with inflation.
Nguyen Van Khanh of the southern province of Dong Nai said many workers are living a very stringent life with low-quality meals on a monthly income of less than US$100, or approximately VND2 million.
Four or five workers often share a small room, and most of them cannot even afford a cheap mattress, Khanh said at a discussion session among members of the National Assembly on Wednesday.
Dang Ngoc Tung, another member of the legislature, said the basic salary has failed to support Vietnamese workers so far. He said the minimum salary needs to be raised in accordance with the country's consumer price index, instead of being a fixed number.
Tung, also chairman of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, said newly proposed amendments to the labor law allow companies to stop reporting their salary payments to the government. However, Tung said the requirement needs to be sustained because the government should not loosen control over salaries.
Vietnam plans to raise the basic salary, which is used by companies to calculate actual income for employees, to VND1.05 million (US$50) per month from May 2012 from VND830,000 ($40).
Inflation was recorded at 21.59 percent in October, easing from 22.42 percent in September. The rate is still the highest in the Asia-Pacific region.