Workers laid off as global demand falls

By Le Tuyet   August 16, 2022 | 06:26 pm PT
Workers laid off as global demand falls
Workers at a garment factory in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Textile and electronics companies are cutting overtime and working hours to their workers’ dismay as global consumer demand fall.

Tran Thu Huong and her husband were working at a garment factory in HCMC’s Go Vap District when last month, their income fell by 20% to VND15 million ($640.75) as new orders shrunk.

Huong said their income was barely enough any more as they paid VND2.2 million for house rent, VND2.7 million for tuition for their five-year-old child and loan interest, and had to tighten their belt by "not buying miscellaneous things" such as fruits.

Her husband, Hung, 33, recently quit his job after working at the factory for five years.

"I can’t work in the garment industry anymore," he said.

He used to be paid VND13-14 million a month when he started working, but the amount had halved by the time he quit.

Le Van Vu, 25, a worker at an electronics factory in HCMC’s Thu Duc City, was fired last month as production slowed down.

His supervisor had said there were too many workers for the company to afford, he said.

Some 80 workers, or 20% of Vu’s assembly line, were without any work to do and in the firing line. Some, especially those with children, resigned to look for new jobs.

Vu used to send part of his income home to his parents but can now hardly afford his rent and food, and has stopped eating breakfast and stays at home all the time to keep his head above water.

Electronics worker Le Van Vu decides to stay at home all the time after losing his job. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong

Electronics worker Le Van Vu decides to stay at home all the time after losing his job. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong

Labor-intensive industries like electronics, garment, footwear, woodworking, and steelmaking have been hit hardest by the slowdown in orders from the U.S. and Europe, Tran Viet Anh, vice chairman of the HCMC Union of Business Associations, said.

As a result, many have cut working hours while workers want to work extra to make ends meet.

Taekwang Vina, a footwear producer in the southern Dong Nai Province, said it had to furlough 40,000 workers for three days each in August and September.

Around 8,000 workers would otherwise have nothing to do, the workers’ union leader, Dinh Sy Phuc, said.

The firm had raised the minimum wage by VND260,000 and bonuses by VND100,000 last month, he added.

Pham Thi Thu Lan, deputy head of the Institute of Workers and Trade Union, said it is inevitable that once orders slow down, workers would be the hardest hit.

Millions have been affected by the fall in global demand, she said.

She called on authorities to adjust minimum wages so that workers could live on eight-hour working days rather than seek overtime.

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