Commodities price surge causing tough challenges among HCMC laborers

Having just resumed normal life from the harsh outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, workers in Ho Chi Minh City now have to face tougher challenges caused by synchronous price rises of essential commodities.

A labor union representative is delivering gifts to poor pregnant workers in HCMC. (Photo: SGGP)

Huynh Long Dung, a sanitation worker living in Thu Duc City, shared that formerly he could spend VND50,000 (US$2.18) for four times to and fro his workplace. Now that the gas price has increased, that sum can only afford three times. Also, this fuel price rise has caused a butterfly effect on other commodities, and his family has to adjust their shopping choices to eat healthily, not to eat well anymore.

Adding to the instable market prices is the unchanged salary of many workers for two years long, making it harder for them to manage life. Nguyen Thi Thuy, an employee in Linh Trung No.2 Export Processing Zone, admitted that the outdated salary of hers and her husband can barely afford commodities, rent fee, and school fees of her two children.

Even though businesses and labor unions are launching various programs like 3-month renting aid in accordance with Decision No.08/2022/QD-TTg, issued on March 28, 2022 by the Prime Minister to help workers in HCMC overcome financial difficulties, many still struggle day after day to afford essential goods.

Statistics from HCMC Labor Federation in February 2022 reveal that 42 percent of the surveyed subjects admitted they have poor living standards due to their low salary. They can save almost nothing, and if anything goes wrong, they will have no spare money to spend. 20 percent of the surveyed now has a monthly salary of VND5 million ($218), and they need to work overtime.

One direct negative impact is that when there is any problem, these people have to borrow money from illegal organizations. Another is that laborers choose to withdraw their social insurance in one go to cover living expenses. The number of people following that choice in HCMC increased by 19 percent in the first three months of this year compared to this time last year, mostly living in Thu Duc City and the districts of 12, Binh Tan, Hoc Mon, Binh Chanh.

CEP Financial Group is offering consultation and loans to workers to avoid the case of people approaching illegal credit organizations. (Photo: SGGP)

Aware of such harshness, many businesses have offered practical solutions. For example, Hoang Gia Viet Security Service Co. delivered financial support packages to its poor workers and rearranged workplaces so that its employees can work as near their accommodation as possible to save fuel cost.

The HCMC Labor Federation regularly organizes ‘Benefit Locations for Members’ in the cultural centers of each district as well as industrial parks to sell qualified commodities 10-45 percent below market prices. This program is supported by large corporations with voluntary spirit to help the poor.

From now until the end of the year, especially in this Worker Month, the program will be launched from the fifth-tenth in places having a great quantity of laborers. It is expected to financially aid workers and create a habit of buying qualified food to improve their physical health.

Decision No.08/2022/QD-TTg, issued on March 28, 2022 by the Prime Minister aims at employees of businesses in industrial parks, export processing zones, key economic zones. If they rent a room or a house from February 1, 2022 to June 30, 2022 and possess either a 1-month-and-over definite or indefinite term contract, taking part in mandatory social security in the month right before the registration time, they can receive a monthly support of VND500,000 ($21.8) per person in three consecutive months. People having just returned to the labor market can receive a monthly support of VND1 million ($43.6) a person in three consecutive months.

This decision is wholeheartedly welcomed by workers although the administrative procedure is rather complicated and not many have known about it. They only wish this procedure can be simplified for convenience sake.

Head of the Legal Policy Department in HCMC Labor Federation Nguyen Thanh Do stated that the above decision not only boost laborers’ spirit but also help businesses to stabilize manufacturing activities. Local labor unions are doing their best to disseminate this useful information to all workers and aid them in registration. Local authorities, therefore, should collaborate with these unions in verifying the eligibility of applicants for quicker financial aid delivery.

Le Thi Hoa, owner of a boarding house in Thu Duc City commented that she has not received any information about this decision, nor has any tenant given her documents for eligibility verification. She is willing to sign papers so that they can receive such meaning financial help, seeing that they are now facing such a tough challenge. Other boarding house owners in her areas agree with that, as long as they are explained about the content of the decision in detail.

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