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HCMC factory workers eke out a living with additional jobs

By Le Tuyet   May 22, 2022 | 07:22 pm PT
Many HCMC workers are having to take on extra work outside their factories in order to meet daily expenses and take care of other needs like children's education.

After finishing her work at a shoe factory run by Pou Yuen Vietnam Co. Ltd in Binh Tan District at 4 p.m., Ly Thi Nghiem, 38, rushed back to her rented apartment to make dinner for her two children aged nine and 11.

She did not join them though. As soon as the food was ready, she left for a restaurant around 5km away to work as a waitress.

Nghiem’s husband also works at the shoe factory. Together, they earn more than VND16 million (around $700) each month.

"If we don’t work overtime, we can’t earn enough to raise the kids," said Nghiem.

Every month, the couple spends more than VND3 million on rent and utility bills, and it costs more than VND5 million to send the kids to school.

The factory does not regularly have workers stay back and work overtime and even if it does, the shift lasts only one hour, and the extra income is not enough to raise their total income, said Nghiem.

Nghiem’s husband is in charge of taking the kids to school early in the morning and picking them up in the afternoon. If he does not take the extra shift at the factory, he will stay home and take care of the kids while his wife takes the second job.

Working every day from 5:30 to 11 p.m. at the restaurant, Nghiem earns an additional income of VND4 million per month.

"Every night when I return home, my husband and two kids have already gone to bed."

Cu Phat Nghiep, chairman of the labor union at Pou Yuen Vietnam, the biggest employer in HCMC that hires more than 53,000 workers, said though he did not have an exact figure, it has been reported that the number of workers that have taken a second job outside the factory is "quite high."

Some workers have also taken training courses in manicure and pedicure, makeup and hairdressing organized by the company so that they can use these skills to augment their income, he said.

A worker at Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in District 7, Nguyen Hien, 37, works as a driver for a ride-hailing firm whenever he leaves the factory.

Nguyen Hien takes his motorbike out of his rented apartment to work as a ride-hailing driver after finishing his work at a factory in Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone in HCMCs District 7, May 2022. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong

Nguyen Hien takes his motorbike out of his rented apartment to work as a ride-hailing driver after finishing his work at a factory in Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone in HCMC's District 7, May 2022. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong

On weekdays, he works as a mechanic during the day and a driver at night. On the weekends, he spends the whole day working as a driver.

Hien said he earns more than VND10 million each month from the main job at the EPZ, and if he wants to earn more to help his parents, he has to take the second job.

"Working as a driver allows me to be my own boss, but it does wear me out sometimes."

According to a 2020 survey by the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor’s Institute for Workers and Trade Unions (IWTU), almost 8 percent of factory workers take second jobs and earn an average extra income of more than VND800,000 per month.

A study by the HCMC Federation of Labor released early this year said most female workers in the textile and garment sector choose to do extra work outside the factories. Of more than 1,400 workers surveyed, 5 percent said they work as waitresses at restaurants, 5.5 percent received orders to make clothes at home, and almost 90 percent sold goods on online platforms.

A male worker receives orders to make clothes at home after work in Go Vap District, HCMC in 2021. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong

A man receives orders to make clothes at home after work in Go Vap District, HCMC in 2021. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong

The IWTU said on average, factory workers earn VND5.8 million per month in general and it needs more than VND7.5 million for them to make ends meet.

IWTU director Vu Minh Tien said workers have "a lot to trade" when taking on a second job.

Their health will get worse at a faster rate and they would not be able to spend time with their families, especially children.

In addition, the second jobs that workers take do not typically provide them with any insurance, and in case of some occupational accident, no one will protect their interests.

 
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