The fourth wave of COVID-19 has changed the routines of many people working in industrial parks (IPs) in northern Viet Nam.
As IPs play an important part in the country’s exports and local economic development, the re-emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic could cause disruptions to production and business activities, causing tens of thousands of workers to work alternate shifts or take temporary leave, said experts.
To deal with the situation, Bac Ninh Province, which is home to 1,120 companies including big names such as Samsung, Canon, Foxconn and Microsoft, as well as about 450,000 workers in 10 industrial parks and 26 industrial clusters, started the first ever production-residence-combined model in the country to deal with the ongoing outbreaks in the IPs.
Vu Ninh, who worked as a manager at Samsung’s vendor at the Yen Phong IP told Viet Nam News: “I was vaccinated against COVID-19 on June 2 and feel thankful and safe for that.”
Ninh said: “Now, everything is served at the factory. Instead of going back and forth between Ha Noi and Bac Ninh every day like usual, we are working, eating and staying at the factory all the time.”
Other IPs in Bac Ninh Province are following similar models.
Nguyen Thi Khai, a worker at Bujeon Vietnam Electronics Company in Que Vo IP, said: “I feel peace of mind while I keep my job and income and am protected.”
Nguyen Thi Thu, a worker at Yen Phong IP, said: “We get VND100,000 per day and extra each month to call home.”
Co-operate to protect the IPs
While Bac Ninh Province People’s Committee set up teams to inspect, supervise and guide enterprises to implement the work-stay model, local enterprises were also working hard to make sure their staff stay safe.
Bujeon Vietnam Electronics rearranged an equipment line, temporarily suspending an expansion project to take advantage of the space for accommodation.
Song Yu Hoon, director of the company’s Administration and Human Resources Department, said: “We always ensure the best conditions for workers’ accommodation as they need to be safe to maintain stable production.”
Choi Joo Ho, general director of Samsung Vietnam, said: “In a short time, equipment has been installed for workers to stay at the factories and at 51 schools in Yen Phong district.”
To ensure peace of mind for tens of thousands of employees, the company provides free accommodation, as well as three meals and a snack a day.
Bui Hoang Mai, Head of the Provincial IP Management Board, told local media: “The policy of the province has received the consent of enterprises as it is the most practical solution to fulfil the “dual goal” of both economic development and fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Other IPs to be protected
There are 3.8 million people working in 369 industrial zones and border areas nationwide, while some 600,000 people work at industrial clusters.
Ha Noi, HCM City and Bac Giang Province also suffered from the fourth wave of COVID-19. In the top ten exporting localities, valued at US$213 billion, the top four accounted for 51.2 per cent of the volume. HCM City and Ha Noi accounted for 40 per cent of the country’s GDP.
In the fourth wave of the virus since April 29 to June 16 afternoon, Bac Giang reported 4,590 cases, Bac Ninh followed with 1,432, while HCM City and Ha Noi reported 1,015 and 464 cases, respectively.
With more positive cases reported, HCM City’s factories implemented measures to deal with the pandemic and ensure production.
Head of Viet Thang Jean Co. with thousands of workers and vice president of the HCM City Textile, Embroidery and Knitting Association, Pham Van Viet, said: “The textile and garment industry is labour-intensive and works on a chain, so if a worker is isolated for 14-21 days, the enterprise’s production plan and the production chain are interrupted.”
Viet said: “We are very worried because if we cancel orders, we have to compensate customers, while thousands of workers have to quit or lose their jobs.”
As in Bac Ninh, the city’s businesses have prepared plans for on-site production and accommodation. On June 11, the management board of the city’s Hi-Tech Park organised an online scenario when workers stay and work in the factories.
Economist Ngo Tri Long said that the fourth wave poses other problems. The first priority was to fight the pandemic, but at the same time keep production chains intact.
“In the planning and development strategy of IPs, it is necessary to prepare and respond to the pandemic and limit the spread of the disease. The construction of concentrated accommodation and catering for workers in a closed chain in industrial parks and factories will be a long-term solution. Thus, it is easy for us to stamp out the pandemic, not to spread it in the community.”
Long said it was necessary to urgently trace, localise and stamp out new infection clusters, especially outbreaks that have spread to industrial parks and export processing zones, adding that foreign experts working in the IPs need to undergo mandatory isolation.
Economist Nguyen Tri Hieu told Viet Nam News : “The local economy has spent the first five months relatively optimistic. Exports grew over the same period last year, foreign trade maintained growth, jobs were restored, and GDP continued to grow. However, from now until the end of the year the situation will be very unpredictable.”
He added: “We still have strength in exports. Many markets around the world are being strongly affected by the pandemic, but there is a lot of demand for goods, especially agricultural products. However, the pandemic must be controlled and the production must be maintained.” — VNS