Covid-free factories protest sudden production halt notice

By Anh Minh   July 31, 2021 | 08:16 pm PT
Covid-free factories protest sudden production halt notice
Pangasia fish processed at a factory in the Mekong Delta. Photo by VnExpress/Cuu Long.
Factories accommodating workers on site with zero Covid-19 cases are dismayed at a sudden notice to halt production.

The Tien Giang People’s Committee announced Thursday the closure of nine industrial zones starting August 5, after 260 workers tested positive at factories in the Long Giang and My Tho industrial zones.

In a petition sent to Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Minh Hoan the same day, Van Duc Tien Giang Food Export Company expressed surprise on receiving the province’s order to halt production, as it has applied the stay-at-work model and has not recorded any Covid-19 infections.

Its chairwoman Truong Thi Le Khanh said: "This is a great shock for firms that have complied fully with the province’s policies, as it has cost us tens of billions of dong (VND1 billion=$43,000) to arrange accommodation on the production site." Khanh said.

The sudden shut down order would also disrupt the company’s supply chain, as the price of its farmed pangasia fish would drop rapidly if not consumed on time.

"Only 50 percent of normal capacity can be maintained to comply with stay-on-site orders, which has already affected production, farming and export plans. A sudden stop will cause double damage to the entire supply chain", said Khanh, who also mentioned compensation for supply contracts, market loss and bankruptcy as additional impacts the notice may cause.

Workers cannot return to their hometown as most have not been vaccinated and all southern localities are under social distancing restrictions. Halting production while workers remain on site will cause chaos and create difficulties in retaining them later, he said.

"T damage is really unbearable", said Khanh.

The Masan Group’s animal feed subsidiary, MNS Feed, also expressed disappointment with the notice. The sudden production halt order would not only affect the livelihoods of factory workers, but animal feed supply for farmers, it said.

MNS Feed said it has recorded zero Covid-19 cases and is in full compliance with Covid safety regulations. The firm is also requesting authorities to let it continue operations.

Tien Giang People’s Committee Chairman Nguyen Van Vinh said the decision was made after numerous firms were found to have broken the stay-on-site regulations for workers, leading to Covid-19 infections within factories.

"Too many firms have violated the regulations, so we decided to issue a production halt notice to all of them," Vinh said.

The southern provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Thap have also ordered a halt to production by over 150 firms, citing on-site infections.

Tien Giang has recorded 2,097 cases in the fourth coronavirus wave that struck Vietnam late April. The province, home to nine industrial zones with over 100,000 workers, has required residents not to go out between 6 p.m. and 5-6 a.m. the next day in an effort to curb Covid-19 spread.

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