Worker shortage hampers HCMC reopening

By Phuong Dong   October 1, 2021 | 11:00 pm PT
Worker shortage hampers HCMC reopening
Workers of Taiwanese-invested footwear maker Pouyuen Vietnam in HCMC return home from work, June 9, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa
HCMC has allowed enterprises in many fields to resume operations Friday, but many say they cannot restore production as they wish because of a shortage of workers.

A rapid survey by VnExpress found enterprises eager to resume production, but unable to find enough workers.

"Most employees have returned to their hometowns. We don’t know how to bring them back and resume production," said Nguyen Gia Huy Chuong, vice chairman of the Young Businesspeople Association of HCMC.

Some one-fourth of the association’s 800 members are small enterprises with fewer than 100 employees, failing to meet criteria for implementing the stay-at-work model, so they have had to stop production for months.

Chuong said HCMC authorities were late and not properly organized in putting out plans on organizing transport of workers from neighboring localities and further distant provinces like Binh Phuoc, Ninh Thuan and Dak Lak back to the city.

This has made it difficult for enterprises to quickly recruit workers who are currently staying outside HCMC, he said.

Nguyen Van Be, chairman of the HCMC Export Processing and Industrial Zones Authority (HEPZA) Businesses Association, also said that non-synchronous plans on resuming socioeconomic activities in different cities and provinces have led to firms’ being passive in preparing human resources, facilities and materials for resuming production.

According to the association, export processing zones, industrial parks and hi-tech zones in HCMC currently have some 43,000 migrant workers, of whom around 14,000 work in Linh Trung 1 and Linh Trung 2 export processing zones. The latter have received at least one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine. The association has proposed that the city prioritizes full vaccination among workers so that they can get back to work.

Le Hoa Binh, vice chairman of the HCMC People’s Committee, told reporters Thursday that when the city allowed enterprises to resume operations on Oct.1, producers would face labor shortages. He called on migrant workers to stay on in the city and not return to their hometowns, assuring them of new relief packages, vaccination against Covid-19. The migrants should continue working at factories, Binh said.

To be eligible to return to HCMC and work, residents of outside localities should have: received at least one vaccine shot; recovered from Covid-19; or valid certificates of having tested negative for the novel coronavirus.

In addition to labor shortages, smaller numbers of orders and worries about HCMC re-imposing social distancing restrictions have also made many enterprises in the city reluctant to resume operations.

Trinh Chi Cuong, general director of plastics firm Dai Dong Tien, said: "HCMC still has some 4,000 Covid-19 cases a day. If we resume full operations and the pandemic breaks out again, we will face even more difficulties if the city re-imposes restrictions."

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