Statistics of the Vietnam Maritime Administration (VMA) showed the workforce of the industry dropped from more than 45,000 in 2014 to over 39,000 in May 2018, with the highest fall seen in the number of sailors.
According to Vu Khac Cuong, head of the VMA’s Register Ships and Seafarers, a large number of sailors quitted in the past time, while maritime colleges are no longer attractive to high school graduates.
Illustrative image. (Photo: VNA)
Director of the Tan Dai Duong (New Ocean) Shipping JSC Vo Hong Khanh said there are many reasons for sailors to quit, one of which is low pay and insecure welfare.
He noted that average monthly salary of Vietnamese sailors is around VND10 million (nearly US$440) compared to VND14-VND15 million in China and US$1,300-US$1,500 in Japan or the Republic of Korea.
In addition, many Vietnamese ship owners do not buy insurance for sailors, or if they do, the maximum payment for a sailor in case of an accident is around VND30 million (around US$1,310), while sailors on Japanese or RoK ships are eligible for between US$25,000-US$40,000.
Khanh added that while Vietnamese sailors working for foreign ships are exempted from personal income tax, those working on domestic ships are not, which is unfair.
On the other hand, ship owners said it is difficult for them to raise the salary for sailors.
The transport fee for cargo on the Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh City) – Hanoi route is around VND70,000 – VND80,000 (US$3 – US$3.49) per tonne, equivalent to two bowls of Pho, said Vice Chairman of the Diem Dien Shipping Association Vu Duc Then.
Many ship owners are also facing the risk of bankruptcy if there is no timely policy from management agencies in terms of finance and administrative procedures, Then said.
In order to keep and attract more workers to the sector, Bui Viet Hoai, Deputy Director General of the Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) suggested that training establishments should cooperate with prestige shipping companies to provide trainees with opportunities to practise in a professional environment and find job after graduation.
According to Bui Thien Thu, Deputy Director of the VMA, the administration aims to raise the maritime workforce to 42,000 by 2020.