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All work, no play for factory workers

Update: May, 09/2014 - 09:24
Photo baocongthuong

by Cong Phong

DONG NAI (VNS) — After 10 hours of hard work on the production line, Tran Van Nam and his two flat mates go to dinner. The residents of Ho Nai 3 Commune in Trang Bom District in the southern province of Dong Nai, said they had no television or computers, even though they are in their early twenties and are all single.

"The other workers living in this rental block are not much different," Nam said. "There are 30 flats here, but only two have television or computer." He added that workers in the area often finished work at about 5pm, but did not know what to do to pass the time.

Finding ways to entertain themselves is a challenge for many workers as it seems all kinds of entertainment come with a cost. "I used to read news from websites with my mobile phone, but I stopped because of the increasing fees for internet use," Nam said.

He said that he could not afford to buy books with the low salary of a blue-collared worker. He could not even play football as it meant renting a court for more than VND200,000 (US$9.50) per hour. With a lack of places to go, male workers often gather together to drink wine and play cards.

Nguyen Thi Thanh, a young, unmarried worker who lives in Long Binh ward, Bien Hoa City, said she liked to take part in music performances and cultural activities, yet there were no venues in her area. "I cannot afford the expensive tickets to music shows held here, and my company has never organised any cultural or sport activities for workers," she said.

Married workers couples who live in the same block as Thanh also find it difficult to find places to take their children to during weekends, as there are no cultural centres, libraries or playgrounds within the ward.

Nguyen Thi Lan, another resident of Long Binh Ward, said parks and playgrounds for children were hard to find in Bien Hoa. "Many children have no place to go to for entertainment when their parents are at work, so they frequent internet cafes to play computer games or watch movies."

Tang Quoc Lap, vice chairman of the Dong Nai Province's Labour Federation, said the federation and the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism recently conducted a survey into the infrastructures for cultural and sports activities in eight wards and communes with a large concentration of workers.

The survey found that most local cultural centres were limited in space, had few facilities and were only used for public meetings. Twenty-six cultural centres met the standards for space but they did not offer books or newspapers or audio-visual tools.

In 2011, the Government issued a plan promoting the construction of cultural and entertainment facilities for workers in industrial areas and processing zones. At that time, Dong Nai Province planned to construct a cultural centre for workers in Bien Hoa City. After three years, however, work has not started and the land has not even been cleared.

So far, Dong Nai Province has 31 industrial zones, but not one has a cultural centre. Seventy per cent of nearly 750,000 workers working in local enterprises in Dong Nai Province are within the 18-35 age group, according to the provincial Labour Federation. Sixty per cent of the workers are from other areas.

Lap said the local labour federation planned to build three workers service spots in Bien Hoa City and the districts of Trang Bom and Nhon Trach.

They will provide books, newspapers and televisions for workers and also offer consultation on the law and labour policies.

In addition, for the first time in the province, a Cultural Week for Worker will be organised this month, offering many sports and service activities for workers.

Lap said some large companies had built facilities and playgrounds for workers, but the number was limited. He added that companies that paid attention to the quality of life for workers created a happier and more loyal workforce. — VNS

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