In Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of workers get no Tet bonus

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Women work at a small size garment workshop on the outskirts of Hanoi. The Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs has reported a major decline in Tet bonuses for workers this year. PHOTO: AFP

Hundreds of thousands of workers will not receive their Tet bonuses this year and more than 10,000 other ones haven't been paid a thin dime for all the work they did in 2013.

Analysts blame Vietnam's slumping economy that has pushed many companies to the brink of bankruptcy.

The statistics were announced by the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs on January 17.

According to the ministry, this year, more than 118,000 workers at 420 companies in the four northern provinces of Bac Ninh, Hai Duong, Phu Tho and Thanh Hoa will not get any Tet bonuses this year.

Some 256,000 others at 595 enterprises (mainly private companies and those having no state capital) in the six northern provinces of Bac Ninh, Hoa Binh, Hai Duong, Thai Binh, Thanh Hoa, Phu Tho, and the two central provinces of Kon Tum and Quang Tri will not receive any bonus for the New Year of 2014.

Tong Van Lai, a ministry official, said the last year has been bad for businesses and 79 companies in 22 provinces and cities now owe a total of VND75.7 billion in salaries to 10,168 workers. He said this was one of the reasons leading to the decline in Tet bonuses for workers.

But the official was also happy to report that Tet bonuses at most companies were higher this year than last year.

Among 2,000 enterprises employing nearly 2.5 million workers, most reported that their Tet bonuses for workers were on average worth one month's salary, which is about VND4.4 million (US$209) per person on average, up 20 percent over last year.

The highest Tet bonus was about VND709 million ($33,677), given by an foreign-invested company in Ho Chi Minh City.

The second highest was around VND450 million ($21,375) at a private company, and the third was around VND299 million ($14,202) at a company with state-capital. The highest bonus at a state-owned company was VND87 million ($4,132).

Speaking about reports that some companies had given Tet bonuses to their workers in the form of materials like shorts, chili sauce and bricks, Lai from the ministry said Vietnam's labor law only regulates bonus for workers by cash and does not have a clear regulation about giving materials as bonuses so "it is very hard to deal with that problem."

Lai also said that the ministry encourages enterprises to give their workers cash for bonuses instead of materials and in the case that firms don't have enough money, they can reduce the sum.

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