HCMC migrant workers quit jobs, go back home

By Thi Ha   August 4, 2021 | 03:30 am PT
HCMC migrant workers quit jobs, go back home
Workers leave Taiwanese footwear maker Pouyuen Vietnam in HCMC after work. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
Afraid of being furloughed without pay or contracting Covid-19 at their factories, many workers in HCMC are opting to quit their jobs and return to their hometowns.

Thuy from the central province of Quang Ngai was working at Taiwanese footwear company Pouyuen Vietnam for more than 10 years. But she recently decided to resign and go back home permanently though she liked the company’s working environment.

She said her income fell in the last two months because she was on leave for days to look after her baby daughter whose preschool closed because of Covid-19.

"My daughter and I stay in a small room all day, and it is suffocating. The pandemic has become complex. I do not know how long it will last. So I decided to quit my job and settle down in my hometown."

Oanh, a garment worker at the Linh Trung Export Processing Zone, said her company has had to close down since it could not meet the stay-at-work requirements, and she has not gone for work for over a month.

"I cannot afford the rental and other living expenses. But if I go back to work, I will face a high risk of contracting the disease. For these reasons, I have decided to go back to Nghe An, my hometown, and settle there."

Many of her colleagues hailing from the Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta also said they plan to stop working permanently though the management has told them to wait for a while and promised wage hikes when the company resumes production.

Hoang Xuan Thai, head of the labor union at Furukawa Automotive Parts Vietnam Company, said the Japanese firm is taking steps to implement the stay-at-work order, but after suspected Covid infections, many workers became nervous and quit their jobs suddenly to return home.

After their residential areas were locked down due to outbreaks, some others failed to turn up for work, and the company is facing labor shortages now and would continue to do so even after HCMC relaxes the social distancing mandate, he said.

It is difficult to find workers, he added.

Leading consumer retailer Masan, which has over 30 plants across Vietnam, is also suffering from labor shortages mainly because of the high rate of workers quitting or going on leave.

Besides, it is unable to get some of its women workers to stay on its premises because they have children to take care of at home.

"Our workforce has been heavily affected when the rate of taking leave on a rotary basis is expected to stand at 100 percent this year, the highest ever," Nguyen Thi Phuong, permanent deputy general director of VinCommerce, the Masan Group subsidiary that runs its VinMart retail chain, said.

Other retailers in HCMC are also facing labor shortages. The chief of a leading supermarket chain said the pandemic has sent nearly 30 percent of its employees into quarantine, and many others have quit out of fear of getting infected. As a result, most remaining employees at its stores have to work up to 20 hours a day, he added.

Many industry trade groups in HCMC and neighboring provinces such as Binh Duong and Dong Nai are pleading for help.

The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters & Processors (VASEP) said only around 30 percent of seafood firms in the southern region could meet the stay-at-work requirements, and only 30-50 percent of their workers could be persuaded to live at their plant.

According to a VASEP report, many workers at fisheries enterprises have returned to their hometowns, and the companies are expected to face a shortage of both manual and highly skilled workers after the pandemic comes to an end and normalcy returns.

Some 97 percent of garment and textile firms have had to cease operations, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai, deputy general secretary of the Vietnam Textile & Apparel Association, told VnExpress, and they would suffer from severe shortages of workers once they resume operations.

The pandemic has caused many workers to leave industrial parks and export processing zones for their hometown for good, and more plan to quit since they are afraid of being infected at the workplace, she added.

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