HCMC factories find keeping workers onsite a costly burden

By Le Tuyet   August 13, 2021 | 07:36 am GMT+7
HCMC factories find keeping workers onsite a costly burden
Workers are seen at the factory of tools manufacturer Dai Dung in HCMC's Binh Chanh District. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong.
HCMC factories continuing production with workers staying on site are struggling to keep it going as both costs and homesickness mount.

Textile company Thanh Cong in Tan Phu District, HCMC, started the stay-at-work model on July 17 with 2,200 workers, or half of its usual workforce. But, after 25 days, 400 people have gone home.

"Having workers stay on in the factory increases costs and cuts our productivity by half," said Nguyen Huu Tuan, the company’s human resources director.

With the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak proving unpredictable, companies HCMC and some other localities have let their employees remain at work instead of traveling back and forth from their homes each day, which is more likely to increase the risk of infection.

Covid-19 tests alone have cost the company over VND2 billion ($87,900) so far. It also has to pay each worker an extra VND80,000 a day and has spent VND1 billion on setting up their sleeping area.

However, workers still ask to go home and it is not easy for managers to persuade them to stay.

Meanwhile, the company still has to rush production to fulfill orders or face big fines. Given the current labor shortage it can hold on for another month at most, Tuan said.

The situation is even worse for metal gears producer Kem Nghia in Cu Chi District.

The company had asked authorities permission to let workers go home after two weeks of having them on site. It had to do so despite investing VND600 million in applying the model.

The company’s CEO, Tran Minh Tu, said that at first only 13 percent of 1,500 labors decided to stay.

After a week, another 17 percent wanted to come and work on-site, but authorities did not approve this for fear of bringing the novel coronavirus from outside into the factory.

The company decided to shut down all operations, test all employees and send them home. It also asked customers to allow delayed delivery of orders.

Workers make garment products in textile company Thanh Cong in Phu Duc District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong.

Workers make garment products in textile company Thanh Cong in Phu Duc District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong.

The two companies are among 700 in HCMC that have registered to either let workers stay on site to maintain manufacturing or provide transportation to bring workers from their accommodations to the factory.

But after weeks of deploying this model, many have found that it is not very effective and that they are losing more than gaining.

Nguyen Van Be, chairman of the HCMC Business Association, said nearly 600 companies that are currently applying the model are facing financial difficulties. Their workers are uncomfortable and want to go home, he said.

Ly Kim Chi, chairwoman of the Food and Foodstuff Association of HCMC, said that the stay-at-work manufacturing plan only works for about a month. "Any longer than that and there will be issues," she said.

Experts have called for more support from the government.

Do Thien Anh Tuan, lecturer in public sector economics at Fulbright University Vietnam, said that the model should still be applied, but the government should share the rising costs with businesses.

"This support should be in cash and should be easily accessible," he said, adding that essential goods manufacturers receive top priority, followed by export and other others.

After a majority of workers have been vaccinated, factories can start letting employees go home with supervision using GPS or checkpoints to ensure they do not visit any other locations, he said.

HCMC has around 1.2 million factory workers with over 320,000 of them in industrial parks and manufacturing zones.

Factories in several neighboring localities like Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Long An and Tien Giang have also reported similar difficulties.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade last week proposed that the Ministry of Health formulates a new manufacturing model to help businesses overcome the difficulties they are facing now.

HCMC is the epicenter of the latest Covid-19 wave with more than 137,000 cases.

 
 
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