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Elderly people have enough jobs because of low pensions

Ho Chi Minh CityThe total monthly pension of the couple is less than 4 million VND, Mr. Vu Manh Thiet, 70 years old, has to manage enough jobs, including going to Cambodia to work as hired workers.

Mr. Thiet, who lives in Binh Thanh district, has worked for a garment company for more than 30 years as a factory manager. In 2010, he quit his job to work in Cambodia. In 2019, he returned to the country to carry out procedures to receive the retirement regime. At this time, the profiler said that he had 15 years of compulsory social insurance payment, two years short of being eligible for benefits.

Listening to the advice of a social insurance officer, he joined voluntary social insurance for the short time, with the form of lump-sum payment, with a total amount of more than two million dong. “After completing all the procedures, I took the decision with a monthly allowance of 590,800 VND but was speechless”, Mr. Thiet recalled.

Mr. Vu Manh Thiet is on duty at the student dormitory.  Photo: An Phuong

Mr. Vu Manh Thiet is on duty at the student dormitory. Image: An Phuong

During this time, his wife Pham Thi Binh (58 years old), a worker at Binh Minh garment factory, also retired with a monthly salary of more than two million dong. After several adjustments by the state, her salary increased to three million dong. Mr. Thiet’s salary remains the same because he belongs to voluntary social insurance.

Because the pension was too low, Mr. Thiet continued to work in Cambodia. The wife stays at home to take care of her 90-year-old mother. Covid-19 broke out, he had to return. For more than a year, he has not had a job, only depends on his wife’s retirement money, and the whole family has to be frugal in spending.

Introduced by an acquaintance, he applied to be the manager of a student dormitory on Pham Van Dong Street, Thu Duc City. His daily duties are to look after people in and out, get new registrations, and arrange accommodation. At the end of the month, he writes down electricity, water, and rent. Every day he has an hour off to run home to Binh Thanh district to have dinner with his family, the rest has to stay at work.

His post-retirement job brings him an income of 10 million dong a month, enough to cover the expenses of three adults. As for the pension, he saved it for 6 months to receive it once, totaling more than three million dong.

Similarly, after retiring, Mr. Ho Huu Tri, 59 years old, in District 4, managed to have enough money to cover his life. After more than 23 years as a stainless steel worker for Huu Lien A Chau Company, Binh Tan district, Mr. Tri was granted a two-year early retirement by social insurance due to a 61% decline in health.

Taking the decision to retire with less than three million dong a month, Mr. Tri thought he had to find a new job immediately so that his family wouldn’t have to struggle. He was introduced as a school and convenience store security guard with a monthly income of three million dong, working 12 hours a day. Feeling unwell, he turned. Accidentally reading the recruitment information of pool staff in high-class apartments, he decided to register for swimming lessons, take the certification exam and apply for a job.

Mr. Ho Huu Tri worked as a part-timer packing votive paper.  Photo: An Phuong

Mr. Ho Huu Tri worked as a part-timer packing votive paper. Image: An Phuong

He was received by the company, arranged to take care of the swimming pool of an apartment building in Binh Tan district with a monthly salary of 7 million dong. If he works in the morning shift, he leaves home at 5:30 am, the duty lasts until 2 pm. If he went to the afternoon shift, it would take him until nearly 10 pm to be at home. In addition to the main job, he and his wife also receive packaging of votive papers, incense sticks for a facility in District 7, earning about 100,000 VND more every day.

According to the results of the 2019 population and housing census, Vietnam has nearly 13 million people aged 60 and over, accounting for 13.6% of the total population. This number will increase to about 27 million people, accounting for a quarter of the total population of the country by 2050. Statistics show that the source of life of the elderly is quite diverse: Nearly 40% live from pensions and savings. accumulated and provided for by descendants; More than 30% of old people still have to work to earn a living.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Duc Loc, Director of the Institute for Social Life Research (Social Life), said that there are two groups of people who are retired but still working. The first group is qualified workers who continue to work as professionals. The pensions of this group are usually quite high, working mostly because they love it.

The second group is unskilled workers, used to work in factories, with low contributions to the social insurance fund, so when they retire, the amount they receive is insignificant. According to Ho Chi Minh City Social Insurance, more than 45,000 retirees each month receive a salary of less than 3.8 million VND, lower than poverty line city.

“Workers have almost no savings for old age, while the pension they receive is not enough to maintain the minimum standard of living, forcing them to work,” Mr. Loc acknowledged. A survey by the Social Life Institute of nearly 1,000 people late last year found that 64% of workers could not save money from their monthly income. If not working, 49% of survey respondents answered that they can maintain life for a month, only 11% can maintain it for more than 6 months.

Spontaneous market in front of Pou Yuen factory gate in Binh Tan district.  Photo: An Phuong

Factory worker Pou Yuen in Binh Tan district when leaving shift to go to the market. Image: An Phuong

Workers, who are low-skilled workers, can now only continue to participate in manual jobs such as motorbike taxi drivers, security guards, or redo the jobs they just left at the factory and receive seasonal wages. However, their livelihood at this time is fiercely competitive with the group of young and healthy workers.

According to Dr. Loc, the state should pay special attention to the second group because they are the consequences of the labor-intensive economic model for nearly 30 years. However, after many years of observation and research, he found that the employment policy for this group was almost empty.

Mr. Loc recounted the story that when asked about retirement plans, most female garment workers wanted to continue working and open a small shop. However, during the decades of working on the line, they only know how to sew one stage of the product. Many factory workers have very good sewing skills but do not know how to cut and assemble a complete shirt and pants. Therefore, these workers need a short-term vocational training course to help them best prepare for retirement.

In the long term, the state must have policies to promote enterprises to go up the ladder in the supply chain, out of outsourcing positions in order to increase the value of labor. As long as labor-intensive industries are maintained, the second group of pensioners will increase. Normally, they can manage on their own, but an event like the recent outbreak will be a huge challenge for welfare policies.

Currently, retirees like Mr. Tri and Mr. Thiet have jobs, but they are still insecure. Mr. Thiet said that every time he thought about his pension, he was sad. He was always worried about his health weakening or losing his current job, not knowing how the life of the three elderly people in the family would manage.

Le Tuyet

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