Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Funding delay leaves thousands of Vietnamese railway workers unpaid



Funding delay leaves thousands of Vietnamese railway workers unpaid

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A railway worker during a night shift in Ha Noi. VNA/VNS

Funding delay leaves thousands of Vietnamese railway workers unpaid

The lives of tens of thousands of railway workers in Vietnam have once again been turned upside down as their salaries have remained unpaid for four months.

Vietnam Railways has blamed a funding delay for the problem, saying many units have been forced to borrow money to pay for salaries and maintenance work.

Nguyen Thi Kim Thanh has worked as a level crossing operator at guarding area No1 of Dong Van Station under Ha Ninh Railways JSC for more than 10 years. She remembers every brand of trains and their schedules for passing through Ha Nam province.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the frequency of train operations has decreased due to the remarkably low number of passengers.

“Previously, my average income was about five million dong [$217] per month, but from early this year, patrol staff and level crossing operators like me have only received two million dong per month,” she said.

“The company has owed our payments for four months.”

Thanh said the money was never enough for a family of four members and she and her husband had been forced to reduce their expenses to afford school fees for their two children.

At the end of every month, they have no money to buy meat for meals.

“I’m still lucky as all of my family members are healthy. We would surely be in debt if one of us had to be hospitalised,” she said.

Dao Thi Bich Lien, another barrier operator at Km87+630 point in northern Nam Dinh province under Ha Ninh Railways, said it was not the first time the company had failed to pay her on time.

Last year, the company owned salaries for months but managed to pay it back eventually.

Lien’s husband is a railroad maintenance worker and the couple earn a total of four million dong per month.

“We take more jobs to earn money to survive and wait for our payments to return,” Lien said.

Ha Ninh Railways chairman Dau Van Long admitted that the company has not signed a maintenance contract this year with Vietnam Railways Corp. As a result, the company could not calculate its revenue or pay its employees.

The unit has about 600 employees and is responsible for maintaining 130km of track from Hanoi’s Thuong Tin district to Thanh Hoa province.

Long said the company had to borrow roughly five billion dong per month from banks to pay minimum wages for staff.

“The company is trying to maintain operations while waiting for the ministries, branches and corporations to allocate maintenance funds,” he said.

Vietnam Railways Corp chairman Vu Anh Minh said the corporation spends about 90-92 per cent of its total capital on maintenance work. The rest is for tasks such as periodic repairs and inspections and overcoming the consequences of natural disasters and other unexpected circumstances.

Of the capital spent on routine maintenance, 69 per cent is used to pay wages to employees. The salary for railway patrollers and level crossing operators accounts for 48 per cent with an average of about 5.5-to-six million dong per head per month. The remaining 52 per cent is for maintenance workers with salaries of six-to-6.5 million dong per head per month.

However, railway maintenance is a public utility product and ordered by the state. Funding from the state budget for maintenance work only meets about 40 per cent of the demand and workers are the ones losing out.

The cause of the maintenance funding delay is a dispute between two government agencies – the Vietnam Railways Administration under the Ministry of Transport and Vietnam Railway Corp.

Last year, Vietnam Railways Corp was transferred to the Commission for the Management of State Capital at Enterprises (CMSC), an entity that manages the government’s $43 billion worth of investment in various companies.

The CMSC refused to provide funds, saying maintenance workers should be paid by the ministry since it controls the maintenance and infrastructure budget. However, the ministry cannot provide funds to an entity it does not manage.

Minh said the government needed to come up with a solution to allocate the funding to ensure railway maintenance work as well as payments for employees.

Vietnam Railways Corp is assigned to operate the entire national railway system including 15 railway lines passing through 34 provinces and cities with a total length of 3,143km.

VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

MOST VIEWED

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

    Cambodia's tourism industry is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for Chinese travellers after Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 – starting with guests from China. Cambodia Chinese

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in

  • No ‘Crown Prince’ exists to buy France football club: ministry

    The Ministry of the Royal Palace has denied media reports that a Cambodian “Crown Prince” had purchased the AS Saint Etienne football club of France’s top-flight LIGUE 1 at the cost of €100 million ($117 million). In a press statement on September 19, the ministry stressed that Cambodia

  • Cambodian bride ‘badly treated, held captive’ by Chinese man seeks help

    A Cambodian woman who travelled to China to marry a Chinese man there was “badly treated” by her husband’s family and then had to be rescued and will be returned to Cambodia to ensure her safety. The rescue operation came about after the 25-year-old