Railway shutdown looms as staff salary entangled in red tape

By Doan Loan   February 21, 2020 | 05:08 am PT
Railway shutdown looms as staff salary entangled in red tape
A train runs on track in northern Lao Cai Province. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Trains might have to stop running from next month since over 11,300 railroad workers have not been paid their salaries due to bureaucratic wrangling.

Vu Anh Minh, chairman of the state-owned Vietnam Railways Corporation, said on Thursday the company has not received money to pay 11,300 maintenance workers and grade-crossing operators, who make up a third of the staff, since the beginning of this year.

The problem began when the corporation this year became one of 19 state-owned companies to be transferred to the Commission for the Management of State Capital at Enterprises (CMSC), an entity set up to manage the government’s stakes of more than $43 billion in various companies.

The CMSC refused to provide funds saying maintenance workers should be paid by the Ministry of Transport since it controls the maintenance and infrastructure budget.

But the ministry is not permitted to provide funds to any entity it does not manage.

The railroad company is in a dilemma since it does not have the funds to pay the salaries.

"We have asked the Ministry of Transport to seek a solution from the government," Minh said.

"But so far none has been found. There is a high risk that operations will have to be stopped by the first week of March."

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong said his ministry has asked the government for permission to provide funds to ensure trains run as usual.

VNR operates over 3,000 kilometers of railway tracks with over 30,000 staff.

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