Let workers go home, factories in the south propose

By Anh Minh   August 11, 2021 | 06:06 am PT
Let workers go home, factories in the south propose
Tents are set up for workers to live within a garment factory in southern Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Nam.
Many businesses in the southern region have found the stay-at-work production model financially untenable and want a more flexible Covid-19 strategy to keep supply chains intact.

Phan Thi Thanh Xuan, deputy chairwoman of the Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association (Lefaso), said that after a month of implementing the stay-at-work model, many footwear companies are struggling to keep production going.

She said the model has spiked costs significantly because factories need to pay for workers’ accommodation and meals, while workers’ mental health drops after staying away from their family for a long time.

Garment companies share this plight. Le Tien Truong, chairman of the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex), said the model only works for small-scale companies and a more flexible approach is needed.

Xuan proposed that workers are allowed to go home as long as they are committed to not going to any location other than their house and the factory.

The company will increase the frequency of rapid tests to ensure new Covid-19 cases are quickly dealt with, she said.

Local authorities need to join forces in ensuring that workers do not leave their homes, she added.

Xuan also said that the new approach should apply only to companies that have found the stay-at-work manufacturing model ineffective.

Do Thi Thuy Huong, a committee member of the Vietnam Electronic Industries Association (VEIA), agreed with Xuan, saying localities with low numbers of new Covid-19 cases can adopt a more flexible approach to help businesses operate normally despite the outbreaks.

"The Health Ministry should provide guidelines on what businesses should do if new cases are found so that manufacturing can continue," she said.

A spokesperson for American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam in Hanoi also supported the idea.

Last week, the Ministry of Industry and Trade had proposed to the health ministry that workers are allowed to go home if they are in a low-risk area.

Some businesses have proposed that authorities increase the use of technology to manage workers.

Nguyen Chanh Phuong, general secretary of the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of Ho Chi Minh City (HAWA), said that each company should share its database of workers, including their Covid-19 testing and vaccination info and addresses with authorities.

"This will help businesses get through the pandemic until the majority of the population is vaccinated."

Phan Duc Hieu, deputy head of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), said that the new proposals are important as they will can ensure the supply chain is protected and prevent disruption.

Since the new Covid-19 wave emerged in Vietnam in late April, nearly 233,000 nfections have been recorded in 62 of its 63 cities and provinces.

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