Vietnam lawmakers vote for pension rule change, ease workers' concerns

Thanh Nien News

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Workers at a footwear factory in Hanoi. Photo: Reuters Workers at a footwear factory in Hanoi. Photo: Reuters

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Vietnam's legislators have voted to give employees the option of receiving lump-sum social insurance payments when they choose to leave their companies and exit the state pension program. 
Roughly 82 percent of the legislators agreed with this policy at a session of the National Assembly -- Vietnam's legislature -- on Monday, three months after thousands of workers protested a new rule that aimed to keep all employees in the state pension system until their retirement date. 
The voting result is consistent with an internal opinion poll last week, which saw more than 87 percent of the assembly back a resolution to amend the controversial rule. 
The rule, designed to shore up the pension fund, was slated to go into effect next year, but now the National Assembly ordered relevant agencies to roll it back. 
In late March thousands of workers in Ho Chi Minh City and some southern provinces protested against the rule in a strike that lasted nearly a week.
The workers calmed down only after the government guaranteed that all social insurance policies would stay unchanged until the end of the year, and that it would seek amendments so employees could still choose to take the lump-sum payment, or get paid monthly in retirement.
Experts say the Vietnamese government is finding it hard to maintain a sustainable pension system.
Vietnam’s social security fund is forecast to have deficits beginning in 2021 and risks being depleted by 2034 without reforms, according to the International Labor Organization.
Efforts by the Vietnamese government to raise the retirement age in the past two years have been rejected by lawmakers.

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