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As Workers Remain Without Pay, Vietnam Might Face Railway Shutdown

Bad news for anyone considering a train trip.

According to VnExpress, 11,300 employees of the Vietnam Railways Corporation, making up a third of the state-owned company's staff, have not been paid since the beginning of the year.

Vu Anh Minh, the corporation's chairman, told the news source that money has not been received to pay maintenance workers and grade-crossing operators. At the start of 2020, the railways corporation was one of 19 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to come under control of the Commission for the Management of State Capital at Enterprises (CMSC).

The CMSC, the news source explains, was created to manage government stakes worth over US$43 billion in numerous companies. The agency, however, has refused to fund salaries for these workers while asserting that the Ministry of Transport should provide the money since it manages infrastructure budgets.

However, the ministry cannot fund corporations that it does not operate.

"We have asked the Ministry of Transport to seek a solution from the government," Minh told the newspaper. "But so far none has been found. There is a high risk that operations will have to be stopped by the first week of March."

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong added that the ministry has asked the government to let it provide the funding so that trains can continue to run.

Vietnam Railways is hurting from the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak as well, with the South China Morning Post reporting that the company's revenue in the first half of February fell by US$2.8 million compared to the same period last year. It has had to refund nearly 40,000 unused tickets.

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