Covid surge cramps HCMC production as factories struggle

By Le Tuyet   July 7, 2021 | 07:11 am GMT+7
Covid surge cramps HCMC production as factories struggle
Workers of Nidec Sankyo in HCMC sleep in tents in the parking lot amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong.
HCMC factories are struggling to keep manufacturing going while keeping their employees safe as Covid-19 numbers soar in the southern metropolis.

For nearly a week, a factory of precision manufacturing company Jabil Vietnam in Thu Duc City, which has 4,500 workers, has been shut down after Covid-19 cases were confirmed there.

Those who had come into direct contact with these cases have been taken to quarantine zones, while the rest have to isolate themselves at home.

"We have many orders to fill. Everyday hundreds of containers of materials arrive but we have no choice but to suspend operations to stop the spread of the disease," said Nguyen Van Trung, head of the company’s labor union.

Although the company had suggested the idea of using tents to accommodate workers to stay within the premises, its parent company in the U.S. did not permit it over concerns of privacy for female workers, he said.

Another solution to rent part of a communal house nearby was also denied by the parent company as the bathroom area was not up to par, he added.

Jabil Vietnam plans to test all of its 9,000 employees every week but has not been able to find a medical partner to do this.

The company has one last factory operating to prioritize urgent orders.

"We are operating with fear as we do not know when this last factory will be shut over the disease," Trung said.

The management of another manufacturer, Nidec Vietnam, a subsidiary of Japanese electric motors maker Nidec Sankyo, also in Thu Duc City where 238 cases have been confirmed, is very worried.

Luu Kim Hong, head of the labor union in Nidec Vietnam, said that the company’s premises cannot accommodate 6,000 workers if Covid-19 cases are detected there.

Nidec Corporation has four subsidiaries in HCMC with a total of nearly 14,000 workers.

HCMC authorities have ordered local factories to maintain stringent standards to ensure safety in the city that has recorded nearly 8,000 cases in the latest Covid-19 wave.

Factories that want to operate while keeping its workers isolated can only do so when they are deemed to have low chance of contagion, have workers test negative and stay on the premises.

Over 40 companies have signed up for this arrangement.

But accommodating all employees is a challenge for many. Precision manufacturer Juki Vietnam in District 7 can only host 450 out of its 1,300 employees on the premises, said its administrative director Dao Quoc Cuong.

Hong of Nidec Vietnam proposed that college campuses nearby be rented as accommodation for workers as students take their summer break.

Trung of Jabil Vietnam suggested that the city builds temporary housing units in industrial parks to host workers. Factories can contribute funds to make this happen, he added.

HCMC has 1.6 million workers and 320,000 of them work in 17 industrial parks and manufacturing zones. Many factories in the districts of Binh Tan, Binh Chan, Cu Chi and 7 have been shut after Covid-19 cases were confirmed.

 
 
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