Workers have no regrets leaving HCMC for jobs in hometowns

By Le Tuyet   May 5, 2023 | 08:06 pm PT
With the ongoing layoff among factories in Ho Chi Minh City, many migrant workers have chosen to return home to be with their children and save themselves from high living costs.

Since the beginning of this year, LR Vietnam Co., Ltd, which specializes in making shoes in Linh Trung Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in Thu Duc City, has operated for only three days per week due to a shortage of orders, leaving workers underemployed and on lower income.

As a result, many workers have decided to quit.

One such worker is Tran Thi Cam Linh, who has returned to her hometown to work on the family farm.

Ten years ago, Linh, now 29, left Dong Nai Province that borders HCMC to work at factories in the city.

She met her husband at Linh Trung EPZ, and both have lived in Thu Duc as workers at LR Vietnam for years.

After many years working, their basic salary gradually increased. If business was stable, they could earn a combined monthly income of more than VND20 million (US$860).

However with spending on rent, daily meals, and raising three children, they do not have any savings.

The couple started to think about leaving HCMC when the city was hit by a severe Covid-19 outbreak in 2021.

But having no savings, they decided to stay and hope for more opportunities to come once the pandemic was over.

As it turned out, the pandemic aftermath has hit the worldwide economy harder than expected.

With the factory running short of orders, Linh and her husband decided it was time to go home, especially as they had left two of their children with family in Dong Nai, and wanted to be with them again.

Early last year, Linh's husband returned to Dong Nai first to work on their farm while Linh stayed and worked at the factory in case they could not earn money from farming. He has cultivated mangos and durians ever since.

Nearly four months ago, Linh also left the factory.

"The business situation at the company did not look good so I left sooner than planned," she said.

Tran Thi Cam Linh and her husband work on the farm in Dong Nai Province, April 2023. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong

Tran Thi Cam Linh and her husband work on the farm in Dong Nai Province, April 2023. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong

A few months ago, Phan Thi Kieu Trang, 40, took her daughters back home to central Quang Ngai Province.

Before her homecoming, Trang had worked for Vietnam Nikkiso Co. in Tan Thuan EPZ in District 7 for 15 years.

As her family does not have any farmland, Trang initially did not dare to return home to start a new life. But as the living cost in Vietnam’s biggest city kept rising, the single mom could not help but thinking about returning.

Living in HCMC was always challenging for her to raise two children with a monthly salary of VND16 million.

Early this year, when learning that the company she works for was about to open a factory not far from her parent’s house in Quang Ngai, Trang did not think twice and asked permission to move back immediately.

Now working in Quang Ngai, Trang spends half an hour driving from her parents’ house to work every day and has her mother help care for her daughters. The living cost in the province is much lower.

Although Trang is paid less in Quang Ngai, she has no regrets.

Dozens of other workers at Vietnam Nikkiso have also asked to move back to Quang Ngai, as the new factory offers them the same job, yet they do not have to stay away from home and live in HCMC.

A survey by the HCMC’s Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs in the first quarter of 4,000 companies revealed that 31% had reduced the number of staff, 50% stayed the same and only 19% recruited new employees.

Businesses that imposed layoffs are mainly in footwear, garment and textile, construction and food processing.

The Social Life Research Institute in a survey conducted late last year found that among more than 1,000 workers in HCMC, Binh Duong and Dong Nai, 15.5% said they would return home and 44.6% are considering it.

Most respondents cited the high living costs in urban areas and the need to stay close to their children, whom they have left at home with their parents.

Another reason is that there are now more job opportunities in the provinces thanks to the policy of expanding industrial zones to take advantages of lower labor and premise costs.

Nguyen Duc Loc, president of the Social Life Research Institute, said among workers that are returning home, younger one will continue to look for jobs in factories while older ones are more likely opt for working on farms.

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