Unfortunately, their dreams of financial stability have been shattered by an unyielding economy.
When 51-year-old Vu Thi Thoa from Thieu Do Ward, Thieu Hoa District, arrived in Hanoi, she had high hopes of finding stable employment and earning a decent income to support herself and her family.
Now, after spending almost a month in the capital city, Thoa has been primarily focused on finding work as a domestic helper. She has been spending her days at a job referral center in hopes of catching a break and landing a job opportunity.
In Vietnam, domestic helpers are commonly known as “osins,” a term adopted from a popular Japanese drama series that aired in 1994. The series depicted the life of a housekeeper named Oshin, which resonated with Vietnamese audiences and led to the adoption of the term “osin” to refer to domestic helpers in Vietnam.
Over the past several months, many osins and former factory workers in northern Vietnam have become unemployed and have had to migrate to Hanoi in search of employment opportunities.
However, these domestic economic migrants have faced a lack of opportunities for steady employment. Many homeowners opt to hire relatives or on-call domestic housekeepers instead to save money.
Waiting in Vain
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According to Thoa, Hanoi was rumored to offer better working conditions and higher salaries compared to her hometown.
Thoa had heard rumors that Hanoi offered better working conditions and higher salaries than her hometown.
Unfortunately, that has not been the case. The current situation is not what was expected or desired.
“I’ve been living in the bustling city of Hanoi for almost a month now. After realizing that the salary in my hometown was rather low, I decided to take a chance and try working in this vibrant city,” she shared.
“In Hanoi, I had the opportunity to work for two weeks but unfortunately, I didn’t have a positive working relationship with the owner, so I made the difficult decision to resign. In comparison to my previous job in my hometown, where I was earning VND6 million [US$255] per month, I was able to make a slightly higher income of VND7 million [$298] here.”
“It’s only a small increase, so if things don’t change, I’ll reluctantly return to my hometown, where the cost of living is lower and I can stretch my budget further.”
Thoa is not the only domestic worker having trouble finding work in the capital city.
Resting on a comfortable mat at a local job referral center, Thoa shared the story of another woman she had recently encountered who was also going through difficult times.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting Yen, a wise and graceful individual from the beautiful northern region of Nam Dinh Province.
Despite spending a week in Hanoi looking for employment opportunities, she unfortunately came up empty-handed. Determined to make the most of her time in the city, she decided to have a final meal with her two children who are currently attending university in Hanoi before heading back to her hometown.
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“The economic recession is taking a toll on domestic workers,” said Ngo Thi Hue, director of the Thanh Tam domestic worker job referral center.
The salary for osins is decreasing instead of increasing.
According to Hue, the center is not only matching osins with homeowners, but it also focuses on ensuring that each placement is a win-win for both the osin and the homeowner.
While Hue does her best to ensure each of the domestic workers she represents is fairly compensated, doing so has become quite difficult amidst the recent surge in the cost of living. Hue is facing challenges in ensuring fair wages for her domestic workers due to the increasing cost of living.
“Maintaining old salaries is the best we can do at the moment. The current economic climate has made it increasingly difficult to ask for annual pay raises,” Hue said.
Currently, domestic workers in Hanoi receive a monthly salary of VND7 million. This is a decrease from last year, when they earned VND8 million per month.
“It is challenging to ask homeowners for pay raises at this time, as many have experienced reductions in their own incomes.
“Many have even brought in extended family members from rural areas to assist in the maintenance of their home, instead of hiring a housemaid.
Some homeowners have made the switch from round-the-clock services to hourly services in an effort to cut costs.
The HTML content provided is an image tag with descriptive content. The image is of a domestic helper picking up children after school. The photo is attributed to Tam Le from Tuoi Tre.
|A domestic helper picks children up after school in Hanoi. Photo: Tam Le / Tuoi Tre|
Many residents in Hanoi work in high-rise apartment blocks, such as those in the Times City residential area.
Nguyen Thi Nga, a 61-year-old individual, is among the numerous osins employed in Times City.
Her mornings are spent dropping children off at school and visiting local markets to buy food. She carefully selects fresh fruits and vegetables, supporting local farmers and businesses. She takes her time browsing through the stalls, chatting with vendors and learning about their products. The vibrant atmosphere of the market energizes her, making the mundane task of grocery shopping a pleasant experience. She believes in the importance of buying locally and knowing where her food comes from. It’s not just about convenience for her; it’s about connection and community. She takes pride in providing nutritious meals for her family, made with love and care.
Every morning, domestic workers like Nga diligently follow their daily routines.
In the afternoon, she picks up children from school, ensuring their safe return home.
Despite having 25 years of experience, excellent cooking skills, and a knack for childcare, her monthly salary only amounts to VND6.5 million ($276).
To make ends meet, she sacrifices her hour-long daily break to clean other apartments and earn extra income.
“I earn VND50,000 [$2.13] per hour by cleaning apartments. In addition to this, I used to sell scrap metal, but unfortunately, Times City has banned this activity,” Nga shared.
Nga added that she is thankful that economic hardship has not forced her employer to cut her salary.
Meanwhile, housekeepers who have transitioned from round-the-clock shifts to being on-call by the hour have experienced significant improvement. Many of them are now able to work three shifts per day and earn up to VND15 million ($638) per month.
Replaced by technology
Technology has advanced rapidly over the past few decades, leading to significant changes in various industries. One of the major impacts of this advancement is the replacement of certain jobs by technology. Many tasks that were once performed by humans can now be done more efficiently and effectively by machines or software.
This trend can be seen in various sectors such as manufacturing, transportation, and customer service. For example, in manufacturing, robots have taken over the role of assembly line workers, increasing productivity and reducing labor costs. Similarly, self-driving cars and trucks are being developed, which could potentially replace the need for human drivers in the transportation industry.
In customer service, chatbots and automated systems have become increasingly popular, as they can handle basic queries and provide assistance to customers without the need for human intervention. This not only saves time and money for businesses but also improves the overall customer experience.
While the advancement of technology has undoubtedly brought numerous benefits, it also raises concerns about job displacement and unemployment. As technology continues to improve, more jobs are at risk of being automated, leading to potential job losses and economic inequality.
However, it is important to note that new technologies also create new job opportunities. For example, the rise of technology has led to the creation of jobs in fields such as software development, data analysis, and cybersecurity. Additionally, as technology continues to evolve, new industries and job roles may emerge, creating new employment opportunities.
In conclusion, the advancement of technology has led to the replacement of certain jobs by machines and software. While this may lead to job displacement, it also creates new job opportunities and improves overall efficiency and productivity in various industries. It is crucial for individuals and communities to adapt to these changes and acquire the necessary skills to thrive in the evolving job market.
Instead of investing in an osin, many young professionals prefer technology-based alternatives due to their own low salaries. One reason is that these alternatives are often more affordable and offer similar functionality to an osin. Additionally, technology-based alternatives can be more convenient as they can be easily accessed through smartphones or computers. This allows young professionals to save money and still enjoy the benefits of advanced technology. Another advantage is that technology-based alternatives are constantly evolving, offering new features and updates that can enhance the user experience. This constant innovation can make them a more attractive option for young professionals who are looking for the latest technology without breaking the bank. Overall, technology-based alternatives can provide a cost-effective and convenient solution for young professionals looking to invest in advanced technology without overspending.
“A new office worker’s salary can range between VND7 million and VND8 million per month, which is approximately equivalent to that of a domestic worker,” shared Nguyen Hang, a resident from Hanoi’s Nam Tu Liem District.
But money is not the only reason why young professionals are seeking housekeeping services elsewhere.
“Tran Thi Ngoc, a resident in Ecolife Apartments on To Huu Street, expressed that daycare services offer a more affordable option for childcare. Furthermore, she emphasized that the teachers at these facilities are specifically trained in childhood education.”
It can be uncomfortable to have someone we don’t know constantly in our living space.
“It is significantly more convenient to hire a maid on an hourly basis.”
Ngoc, instead of opting for a monthly expense, has made investments in various household appliances. These appliances include a vacuum cleaner, a robotic vacuum, an air purifier, a dishwasher, a kettle, and an air fryer.