Holiday bonuses show huge disparity as Lunar New Year nears in Vietnam

By Vi Vu   January 19, 2018 | 01:43 am PT
Holiday bonuses show huge disparity as Lunar New Year nears in Vietnam
A farmer walks past kumquat trees as he waits for customers ahead of Vietnamese Tet in a field in Hoi An in January 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh
It’s that time of year again when workers find out how festive this holiday is going to be.

A manufacturing company in Ho Chi Minh City has announced it will award its best employees nearly VND950 million ($41,800) each as a Lunar New Year bonus, but another company in the city is planning on giving its workers just VND100,000 ($4.40).

The Lunar New Year, known as Tet in Vietnam, will be upon us in less than a month, and once again companies’ bonus reports are being received with both cheers and tears.

The southern metropolis, the country’s commercial center, stands at the top of this divide, but most cities and provinces across Vietnam have reported a similarly wide spectrum of bonuses.

In Hanoi, one company partly-owned by the government is offering the lowest bonus of VND600,000 ($26), while a foreign company has pledged to pay VND325 million ($14,300), over 500 times more, according to a statement from the city’s labor department.

Da Nang, usually considered the third most important city in Vietnam, has reported bonuses of between VND100,000 and VND300 million ($4.40-13,200).

In the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, holiday bonus pledges range from VND200,000 to more than VND450 million ($8.80-19,800).

The General Statistics Office announced last month that the average income in 2017 reached $2,385, up 7.7 percent from the previous year.

In Vietnam, bonuses are agreed between employers and their workers, but businesses are encouraged by the government to reward employees based on performance.

Last year, Tet bonuses ranged from a meager VND30,000 ($1.32) paid by a company in HCMC to a car worth VND1 billion ($44,000) presented by a real estate company in Hanoi.

Wildcat strikes are often held each year by workers protesting low or no bonus payments.

[Video by Minh Nhat, Van Hoai]

This year, at least 900 workers in HCMC are unlikely to be able to afford to celebrate the country's biggest festival as their companies still owe them wages from 2017, according to the HCMC Labor Federation.

Another 200 businesses have claimed they had a difficult year and would have problems paying holiday bonuses, it said.

The upcoming Year of the Dog will begin on February 16. The government has approved a seven-day break for the holiday from February 14-20.

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