Factories seek speedy vaccination of workers to ease stay-at-work burdens

By Le Tuyet   August 15, 2021 | 03:54 pm PT
Many enterprises yearn for workers’ vaccination to be speeded up as they bear the brunt of expenses and resources needed to implement the stay-at-work model.

After many appraisals, the stay-at-work model of Juki Vietnam Co., Ltd. located in Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone in HCMC’s District 7 has just been approved. The company has more than 1,300 employees.

In addition to arranging places to sleep, shower, and eat, the company has installed additional cameras for tracking and rented a large hotel near the export processing zone as an intermediate isolation area.

Those who test negative for the coronavirus will stay here for 3-7 days and have PCR tests done to eliminate false negative results before entering the factory.

Over the past 25 days, the enterprise has organized for nearly 400 workers to stay on site, and it is operating at just 30 percent of its production capacity.

Workers of Juki Vietnam Co., Ltd. monitor their health after vaccination, June 21, 2021.

Workers of Juki Vietnam Co., Ltd. are monitored after vaccination, June 21, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong.

Dao Quoc Cuong, the company's administrative director, said that the cost of implementing the stay-at-work model is very high but the production efficiency is low. The factory has calculated a number of alternatives, but they are not feasible because 90 percent of workers have been vaccinated with their first doses more than seven weeks ago, so they are not yet safe from the virus.

"The factory can only operate effectively when all workers are fully vaccinated and the "three on site" (work, quarantine and stay) plan is eased," said Cuong, adding that if the local government need money to buy vaccines for workers, the company will consider contributing because the cost is much lower than organizing for workers to live on the factory premises.

The money for a Covid-19 test for each worker is enough to buy two doses, he said.

Similarly, with the first dose vaccination rate at about 75 percent, factories in the Hi-Tech Park in Thu Duc City hope to accelerate the second shot so workers can return and resume production soon.

Le Bich Loan, deputy manager of the Hi-Tech Park, said that businesses with 4,000-9,000 workers have had to reduce their capacity to 10-30 percent and pay more money when workers live on site or picked up from their houses with no stop in between.

Loan said that it was urgent that the first vaccine dose is administered to nearly 3,000 workers living on site.

Vaccination should be done for all employees working at the factory, regardless of their labor and social insurance conditions. Enterprises are willing to pay the cost of hiring vaccination services.

Loan also suggested the need for an open mechanism so factories can access vaccines more easily.

Many businesses in the Hi-Tech Park hope to buy vaccines by coordinating with medical units or parent companies in the U.S. and Europe.

The Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association (Lefaso) is also hoping that it can fund the vaccination for workers.

Phan Thi Thanh Xuan, vice president of the association, said that the entire leather, footwear and handbag industry has more than 2,000 businesses with 1.5 million employees. In the fourth outbreak, more than 90 percent of factories have had to stop production.

The factories employ thousands of workers and it is difficult for them to organize the stay at work model, therefore, getting enough workers vaccinated is the only way to restore production, Xuan said.

Previously the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association, Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association, Vietnam Electronic Industries Association, and the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of Ho Chi Minh City had said that a company called the Royal Strategic Partner was willing to sell vaccines, and the Vietnamese embassy in the UAE has held a meeting with the company to assess its ability to do so.

The four groups have asked the government to either negotiate directly with the company to buy the vaccines or identify an agency for this to ensure their workers are vaccinated soon.

A senior Lefaso official said that from now on, localities and the health sector need to sketch scenarios for reopening in accordance with the rate of vaccine coverage, pandemic control, and preparation for production.

In fact, many customers have only agreed to delay delivery times by up to four weeks, after which the companies have to compensate for delays. Many factories have halted production for nearly a month and are facing the risk of losing customers, causing great damage, the official said.

An FPT Software staff is injected with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the company in Thu Duc City, June 19, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

An FPT software staff is injected with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the company in Thu Duc City, June 19, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

Do Thien Anh Tuan, Lecturer in Public Policy at the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management, said that the priority order for vaccination should be enterprises applying the stay-at-work plan, then those producing essential goods, followed by exporters and other sectors.

When 100 percent of employees receive two doses, the factory will organize production under new conditions, and the situation of workers staying on-site can be eased. They can be allowed to travel between their houses and workplaces, supervised by a phone application or checkpoints.

Cuong of Juki said local authorities and health sectors should have guidance plans for companies having fully vaccinated workers. It can be "two on site", which means that workers work and eat in factories; then return home if their family members are also vaccinated.

HCMC has 1,3 million factory workers. Of these 320,000 work in 17 export processing zones, hi-tech park and industrial zones for 1,600 companies, 80 percent of them have been vaccinated.

Around 600 factories are operating now, but most of them are in financial difficulties and their workers are stressed out when they are away from home for prolonged periods.

HCMC has recorded 149,286 Covid cases in the current outbreak.

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