Teacher Duong Tan Phat at the Pho Cuong Primary School in the poor central province of Quang Ngai said he had never received a Tet bonus during his 34 years in the profession.
Phat is not alone.
Some one million other teachers nationwide are expecting no bonuses or paltry sums for the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, which falls on February 14.
Most companies usually give Tet bonuses equivalent to a month's salary. But teachers receive far less than the accepted national standard, their monthly salary is VND1.5 million (US$81), also low.
The Ministry of Education and Training's Labor Federation reported urban schools might give bonuses of VND300,000 ($16) and VND500,000 ($27) per person for this year. But the bonuses could be as insignificant as a pack of candy in remote areas, the agency said.
Ho Van Chau, head of the Education and Training Section in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum's Dak To District, said most of the 800 teachers in the district would have no Tet bonus this year. Some would receive a pack of roasted watermelon seeds - a common snack during the occasion.
The situation was even worse for teachers in several northern mountainous provinces, including Bac Kan, Ha Giang and Lai Chau. Many of them have bought sweets and cookies as Tet gifts for their poor students, but they have no bonus of their own.
Pham Manh Hung, head of the Teachers and Education Officials Department at the Ministry of Education and Training, said there had been no overall policy on Tet bonuses and each school had its own plan.
The ministry's Labor Federation also said there was no regulation requiring local authorities to support the schools' bonus fund.
The Ho Chi Minh City Education and Training Department reported that they were waiting for such support from the municipal administration.
"Hopefully this year's support will be no less than the previous year's, which was VND500,000 ($27) per person," said the department's vice director Nguyen Tien Dat.
While Tet bonuses are out of reach of most teachers nationwide, hundreds of teachers in Dong Hoi Town in the central province of Quang Binh are still waiting for their salaries for November and December in 2009.
About eight primary and secondary schools owe salaries for teachers, Lao Dong newspaper cited an unnamed source as saying on Monday, adding that there were no official statistics yet but the amount was estimated at hundreds of millions of Vietnamese dong.
The paper reported that the problem was caused by poor coordination among town agencies when they drafted their annual salary plan this year.
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