Sustainable welfare maintained for workers

Thursday, 2021-10-28 09:39:49
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The accomodation for workers of Sadeco company in Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo: NDO)
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NDO – Many workers decided to leave Ho Chi Minh City and return to their homeland following many years of living and working due to the heavy impact of COVID-19 pandemic, causing a shortage of the workforce while setting requirements of sustainable welfare to retain them.

Earning their living in Ho Chi Minh City for nearly 10 years, the trip home of Nguyen Dinh Chien’s family was a special repatriation. It was a trip his family did not expect to make, but they had no other choice. Boarding in Hiep Binh Chanh Ward, Thu Duc District, he and his wife bought a trolley to sell rice and coffee at a corner of Pham Ngoc Thach Street in District 3. Since the beginning of the fourth outbreak of COVID-19 in April, especially after the city applied social-distancing rules under the Directive No.16, he was forced to stop working.

Having lost the main source of income, Chien’s family members would hang about their house every day. The accumulated money for many future plans was running out. By the end of July, he decided to return to his wife’s hometown in Binh DinhProvince by motorbike. Their 17-hour trip, which passed 600 kilometres, ended safely. Chien was happy to return home safely amidst the epidemic but is worried about the financial burden in the coming time.

Nguyen Quan, director of a construction company in Go Vap District, said: “When the city applied social distancing, the engineers and workers were also unemployed. To retain workers, I accepted out-of-pocket payments to support them for many months. Of course, I could not afford the support for all workers; however, finding workers will be a big problem after the epidemic when the works are back in operation”.

According to the data from the General Statistics Office, 292,000 people left Ho Chi Minh City and returned to their homelands from July to mid-September. Particularly from October 1-3, when the city began to ease social distancing rules, around 34,000 employees left Ho Chi Minh City. Master Vu Van Hieu from Ton Duc Thang University said migration waves were a social-economic response of migrant workers. The main reason for this situation was the gradual depletion of their accumulated assets following many months of distancing. This choice helped people make it safer for themselves and their families as the city became the largest epidemic centre in the country. This fact has caused many consequences for socio-economic life, especially the labour market.

A survey by the Ho Chi Minh City’s Human Resources Forecast and Labour Market Information (FALMI) Centre, the businesses need to recruit 43,600 – 56,800 workers during the third quarter. The recent influx of people leaving the city has made the city face a shortage of human resources for the restoration of production and business. As the country's economic locomotive (accounting for nearly ¼ of the country's GDP), the lack of labour forces has been directly affecting the production, business, and service chains, thereby causing negative impacts to budget revenue. For the medium and long-term plan, this migration of labour forces has also had a certain influence on the human resource development strategy of the city, especially regarding the development of human resources for spearhead sectors such as science and technology to serve the goals towards smart, satellite and sustainable cities as well as high-tech parks and regional linkages.

Ho Chi Minh City’s population is estimated to have reached about 9.35 million, accounting for about 9.5% of the national population. With such a large population, the assurance of social security in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic while realising the “dual goal” has faced many difficulties and challenges. Undeniably, during the fourth outbreak of the pandemic, the city authorities have played a leading role in promptly supporting people, especially those who have been heavily affected by the epidemic.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Duc Loc from the Social Life Research Institute in Ho Chi Minh City said that the informal and migrant workers, which account for a very large proportion in the urban areas, need a special support form because they are the most vulnerable group as most of them had not been covered by any “welfare net”. The four-month social distancing has reached their "limited threshold". The city’s authorities should rely on the existing community-based COVID-19 team to promptly detect cases that need medical support, provide assistances of food and reduce the load on local authorities, he added. Assoc. Prof. Dr.Loc suggested the building of community-based relief station through the use of state budget and mobilising social resources towards providing needy people with aid of food and basic medicine.

Master Vu Van Hieu emphasised that to ensure sustainable security and settlement for workers, the city authorities should work with the businesses to develop and implement policies to help migrant workers stabilise their lives and immediately participate in the production and supply chain while meeting the requirements of epidemic prevention and control. The city should also ensure the housing fund suitable for their affordability as well as develop policies of preferential credit loans specific subjects to "reactivate" socio-economic activities. In the long term, it is necessary to build a social housing system so that migrant workers can stabilise their lives and feel secure amidst socio-economic fluctuations. The pandemic has created a psychological crisis for many people, therefor the city needs to immediately deploy psycho-social support programmes to improve the mental health of migrant workers. In addition, it is crucial to create favourable conditions for social organisations, including professional social work ones, to participate in the process of improving and restoring workers' lives, especially in accompanying and assisting workers without labour contracts in the informal economic sectors.

Many workers, like Nguyen Dinh Chien, wanted to return to the city to continue their works in the future. Chien always hopes that the city will have policies to support migrant labourers like him to buy houses. His children are used to living in the city and he also wishes them to have the chance to enjoy better conditions for a better future.

Translated by NDO
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