Companies fight for workers' Tet bonuses amid bleak finances

By Le Tuyet   December 6, 2023 | 04:31 pm PT
Companies fight for workers' Tet bonuses amid bleak finances
Workers at the Tan Thuan free-trade zone in HCMC's District 7 leave work, November 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Despite falling numbers of orders and bleak business situations, several companies are finding ways to give their workers Tet bonuses.

Doan Sy Loi, CEO of Taiwanese leather company Chang Shuen at the Tan Dong Hiep industrial park in southern Binh Duong Province, aims to give each of his worker a month’s salary as a Tet bonus this year.

"There have to be bonuses, even if we have to borrow money," he said. Since last year, the number of orders to Europe has significantly fallen, making business at the firm much more difficult. In order to adapt, the company had to pivot more towards the American market, and be more willing to accept orders with lower prices.

However, no matter how the company tried, the number of available orders was still 30% short of the company’s full capacity. Until Tet, there will still be winter orders, but the situation will be more difficult to predict next year, Loi said.

"If we give up now we will lose everything, so have to push on. And an important thing is to keep up morale and make workers stay," said Loi, adding that all workers wait for Tet bonuses after a year of hard work.

The company’s management board is now trying to arrange for Tet bonus packages to keep workers stay and hold out until the recovery period. With Tet bonuses being a month’s worth of a worker’s basic salary, the company is expected to pay VND7 billion ($288,243) for 900 workers.

Similarly, the textile and garment group PPJ in HCMC’s Thu Duc City said there would be Tet bonuses for workers this year despite the fact that the number of orders only recovered in early October.

"The bonuses are to thank the workers who have stayed with us, and also a way to keep them with us," said Nguyen Thi Lien, vice director of PPJ Group.

Due to general difficulties in the textile industry, in the first nine months of this year, the number of orders from PPJ has fallen.

The director’s board had to reorganize production to ensure that workers get their basic salaries. Since October, the corporation began to receive orders for the summer, lasting until February, which helped improve business activities towards the end of the year.

However, Lien said the exact amount will be confirmed in mid-January next year as the company will need to re-evaluate its financial situation. Right now, PPJ Group uses over 17,000 workers, with 30 companies in several localities. Depending on each unit's production output, workers will get appropriate bonuses.

This year's Tet bonus levels will depend on different industries and markets, said Tran Ngoc Van, vice president of the Binh Duong Industrial Parks Union. Van said several factories had just secured their year-end orders, so they would need to wait for their partners to make payment, meaning the bonuses will be announced in January 2024.

The union also said certain factories managed to maintain their operations, so Tet bonuses for workers will remain the same as last year. But those in the wood industry are in a precarious situation as their number of orders had dropped from last year, and there have been no signs of recovery.

Van said that as their incomes dropped, workers were looking even more forward to their Tet bonuses. Over 40 businesses, making up around 10% of all companies in the industrial park, have reported giving their workers Tet bonuses equal to a month's salary.

Vu The Van, president of the HCMC Export Processing and Industrial Zones Authority union, said businesses were facing hard times as the numbers of orders dropped and workers had to reduce their overtime.

"The situation is quite bleak. The best level of bonuses that the union expects is a month's worth of salary on average," Vu said, adding that the union would support businesses in dire circumstances and have no bonuses for their workers by giving gifts, tickets, cash or discounts.

Le Van Thinh, director of the HCMC Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, said that in December this year and early next year, the labor sector will monitor salaries and bonuses for workers.

For those who are jobless or in circumstances, the unit will cooperate with unions to offer support in 139,000 cases, amounting to VND71 billion.

The General Confederation of Labor has proposed for businesses to announce their plans for Tet bonuses by Jan. 19, 2024 at the latest. The Confederation said while Tet bonuses are not mandated by law, they represent companies’ social responsibilities.

Vietnam will take a seven-day break for Tet from Feb. 8 to 14. The country's biggest holiday often sees migrant workers flocking home for family reunions.

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