Mekong Delta companies in deep water over Covid

By Ngoc Tai, Duc Minh   August 18, 2021 | 05:02 pm GMT+7
Mekong Delta companies in deep water over Covid
Workers pack rice at Tan Long Corp in Dong Thap Province. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Tai.
Manufacturing companies in the Mekong Delta region are struggling to keep production going due to staff shortages and surging costs initiated by Covid-19 outbreaks.

Rice producer Co May in Dong Thap Province has been letting workers live on-site in the last two months to reduce Covid-19 contagion risks, though employees are now asking to go home.

"Two months have gone by peacefully but we cannot prohibit workers from going home since they miss their families and worry about their safety," said CEO Pham Minh Thien.

He let over 100 workers go home and tested them upon their return. In total, 10 staff proved Covid-19 positive, disrupting the company’s manufacturing chain.

Another rice producer in the province, Tan Phat, is also struggling as its workforce has dropped by 88 percent to 20 people while it still has to fulfill export orders of 20,000 tons.

Workers have their own farms and families at home to take care of, said CEO Truong Minh Tam. "If we force them to stay at the factory, they will quit."

Tam is considering whether to sign new contracts as the shortage of workers and rising logistics costs prove challenging.

Huynh Thi Biem, head of human resources at rice producer Tam Long Corp, said most factories are unable to keep their workers from returning home.

There are 28 out of 182 food companies imposing the stay-at-work model in Dong Thap, where over 5,300 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed.

Around 9,800 of 10,000 enterprises with 150,000 staff have had to shut down over Covid-19 impacts in Can Tho, the commercial heart of Mekong Delta, according to the city’s Department of Industry and Trade.

Can Tho has recorded over 2,900 cases.

Most small and medium businesses in the Mekong Delta region are facing major challenges with productivity reduced to 5-10 percent, according to a recent report by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

Many have shut down and are facing bankruptcy, it stated.

Businesses face rising costs related to stay-at-work modes and sourcing materials, with their workers under stress and wanting to go home, it was added.

Many companies have not received government support in delaying tax payments and reduction in loan interests.

Biem of Tam Long Corp proposed local authorities allow commuting between factories and accommodation instead of forcing workers to stay on site.

Other companies want vaccination quickened. They also urged financial support in conducting Covid-19 tests and reduction in loan interests as well as tax breaks.

 
 
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