Covid hotspot Bac Giang to resume industrial production, but hurdles loom

By Anh Minh   June 29, 2021 | 02:00 am PT
Covid hotspot Bac Giang to resume industrial production, but hurdles loom
Workers in Bac Giang return to work, late May, 2021, after factories closed for a period due to Covid-19. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Ngoc.
An addition of nearly 400 firms in the northern province of Bac Giang are set to resume operations on July 1, but they face certain obstacles.

They have to turn part of their factories into dining and accommodation areas for workers besides accommodation outside their premises to contain the spread of Covid-19. They have to pay rentals and hire buses to transport the workers daily.

The number of employees returning to work is only increasing gradually, and so firms face a shortage of workers.

"We resumed production nearly three weeks ago, but to date, only 60-70 workers have come back," said Nguyen Duc Cuong, general director of Hiraki Vietnam Company in Dinh Tram Industrial Park.

With a large workforce of 11,000, underwear producer Crystal Martin Vietnam finds it hard to create areas for dining and accommodation for its workers or rent lodging outside.

Authorities have classified work areas into two zones, blue (safe) and yellow (low risk), Nguyen Xuan Ngoc, deputy head of the Bac Giang industrial parks management, said.

Workers in the blue zone have the right to choose their place of accommodation and type of vehicle provided they undergo Covid tests every working day. But those in the yellow zone have to stay in dedicated areas and only use buses provided by their employers.

Thus, assuring their safety will help bring back workers, but to revive supply chains interrupted by the pandemic will take more time.

Before the fourth wave of Covid began on April 27, Hiraki operated at full capacity, churning out 400-500 plastic and metal molds a day. Cuong said it would take the company at least three months to reach that capacity again.

To reach full capacity, many companies have called on provincial authorities to vaccinate more workers against Covid and allow them to delay payment of employees’ social insurance premiums and land rentals and roll over loans.

In early May, Bac Giang ordered the temporary closure of four industrial parks, and 140,000 workers became jobless.

It targets bringing back 30,000 of them by late July and the rest later this year.

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