Living Wage estimates in Vietnam create an opening for corporate and government action to help workers earn a living wage

Goodweave textile worker © Robin Romano, GoodWeave
Goodweave textile worker © Robin Romano, GoodWeave
The Global Living Wage Coalition (GLWC) has released two living wage benchmark reports estimating living wages in rural and urban Vietnam.

The most recent benchmark reports published by the Global Living Wage Coalition look at wages in urban (Region 1) and rural (Region 4) Vietnam. The measurement of living wage in an urban setting  focuses on workers in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). To provide context, the report examines the current wages of garment workers in the area in comparison to the living wage estimate. The city and neighbouring provinces (Dong Nai, Binh Duong and Long An) are the centre of the garment industry in Vietnam, playing host to the majority (62%) of export-orientated garment companies. The coalition found the living wage to be VND 6,435,864 (or USD 290) per month for a typical family of four with 1.78 workers. This is approximately 84% higher than the minimum wage in HCMC and 34% higher than prevailing wages of garment workers

Meanwhile, measurement of living wage in rural Vietnam (Region 4) focuses on  both the southern and northern rural areas to give a comprehensive look at the wage necessary to afford a basic standard of decency for rural workers across Vietnam. To provide context on wage gaps to the living wage, the prevailing wages of workers in the seafood-processing industry are referenced. In recent years, Vietnam’s seafood exports have expanded sharply reaching US$8 billion in value in 2014 and Vietnam has now become one of the world’s top five global seafood producers and exporters. The GLWC report estimates the living wage as VND 3,991,841 (USD 181) for an average family of four people, with 1.87 workers. This is approximately 66% higher than the minimum wage in Region 4 and 24% higher than the estimated prevailing wages of workers in the seafood processing industry in Soc Trang, one of the locations where the seafood processing industry is concentrated.

The above findings indicate that despite increases in the minimum wage by the Vietnamese government, the minimum wages and prevailing wages used for context remain lower than the living wages in both rural and urban Vietnam. This gap creates an opportunity for a variety of stakeholders to use the information released by the GLWC to improve the lives of workers and move toward payment of a living wage. It is encouraging that a range of stakeholders including government, companies, and labor groups, participated in a recent multi-stakeholder validation/launch event for the reports in Ho Chi Minh City, many of which felt the reports would catalyse further action on wages for workers in Vietnam.

These reports for Regions 1 and 4 mark an important step in mapping the living wages of all 4 economic Regions in Vietnam, and highlighting the gap between prevailing and living wages in that country.

To access the full Vietnam living wage benchmark reports and infographics, click here.

Visit www.globallivingwage.org to find out more about the work of the coalition.

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About the Global Living Wage Coalition

The GLWC is an initiative made up of seven sustainability standards, Fairtrade InternationalForest Stewardship Council (FSC), GoodWeave International, Sustainable Agriculture Network/Rainforest Alliance (SAN/RA)UTZ, and Social Accountability International (SAI), that are working together to improve wage levels in certified supply chains and beyond. In the coming years the GLWC will lead to the strengthening of living wage requirements in codes and criteria but the joint effort is focused on a great deal more than the content of standards, since compliance with a certification programme will not raise wages on its own. In partnership with experts Richard and Martha Anker, the GLWC has advanced a widely accepted and transparent methodology for calculating living wage developed by the Anker team, and is developing benchmarks globally that are publically available to all interested in working toward a living wage for workers. This methodology has also now been published and is available from Edward Elgar publishing. The GLWC will be using all of this work to equip a range of organisations to increase dialogue and take stronger action to increase wages.  The GLWC specifically supports industry-wide collective bargaining efforts as an ideal forum for these estimates to provide impartial information for negotiation.

The GLWC has also released benchmark reports for Pakistan, EthiopiaBrazil, Kenya rural and non metropolitan urban, the Dominican RepublicMalawiBangladesh, India, and South Africa. To access all these reports and learn more about the GLWC please visit www.iseal.org/livingwage