|Workers at a factory in LinhTrung 1 Industrial Park in HCM City. All businesses and production facilities operating in the city meet safety requirements of COVID-19 pandemic prevention and control. — VNA/VNS Photo Hồng Pha
HCM CITY — HCM City authorities are calling for strict anti-pandemic measures to prevent the spread of the virus and ensure safety as of a large number of migrant workers have returned to the city from other localities.
Since the lockdown was lifted on October 1, HCM City has gradually reopened its economy as the lastest outbreak has been put under control in key areas. Thanks to the easing of social distancing restrictions, many enterprises have resumed business and production and have high demand for employees.
However, a huge number of migrant workers have returned to their hometowns, resulting in a serious shortage of workers in many sectors in the city.
Around 1,355 businesses, or 96 per cent of tenants in the city’ industrial parks (IPs) and export processing zones (EPZs) have resumed operations so far, and many enterprises are operating at 95 per cent capacity, according to the city’s Export Processing Zone and Industrial Park Authority (HEPZA).
More than 230,000 out of 288,000 workers, or nearly 80 per cent, have returned to work at enterprises in IPs and EPZs, and more than 5,000 workers have returned to work at enterprises outside IPs and EPZs.
Almost all of the workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recovered from the disease, Hứa Quốc Hưng, head of HEPZA, said.
Many enterprises are recruiting a large number of employees to fill positions in textiles, information technology, sales, delivery, mechanics and refrigeration, according to the city Human Resources Forecast and Labour Market Information (Falmi) Centre.
From November onwards, the demand for workers in the city is forecast to rise as enterprises are planning to expand their scale of business and production to meet greater demand for the year-end and Tết (Lunar New Year) shopping seasons.
The city’s businesses still need about 60,000 workers until the end of the year, and 120,000-140,000 workers in the first quarter of next year.
Nguyễn Văn Lâm, deputy director of the city’s Department of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs, said from October 1 the city has worked with nearby provinces and cities in the southern and Central Highlands to create favourable conditions for migrant workers to return.
“Recruitment demand among enterprises in the city is large. Several firms are recruiting thousands of workers to resume business and production activities,” he said.
People who have returned to work in the city will enjoy benefits such as vaccinations and support policies.
However, there is still a high risk of possible outbreaks in the community due to the movement of a huge number of people from other provinces and cities with low vaccination rates.
The city will create favourable conditions for vaccinations for returnees. People can contact local authorities where they live or the establishments where they work to register for a vaccination, Lâm said.
The city’s Department of Transport has also worked with other localities to facilitate the transport of workers, while the city’s Department of Health has arranged vaccination sites for them at the city’s gateways.
Vaccinations are also being given at localities where workers are returning, and even at factories and enterprises where they have returned to work.
The workers who want to return to the city only need to contact local authorities where they are living, and favourable conditions will be created for them to return.
“They can be assured because businesses have all met the safety criteria for pandemic prevention and control at production facilities,” Lâm said.
In addition, they will be fully vaccinated before going to work in companies or factories, so they should not be too afraid, he added.
“The returnees will continue doing their current jobs or new jobs,” Lâm said.
Nearly 130 job service centres and agencies in the city are ready to support job seekers, he said.
About 400 vocational education establishments are providing vocational training courses for workers who need to master skills suitable for new or ever-changing jobs.
Nguyễn Quang Cường, director of the city’s Youth Employment Services Centre, said labourers should find work before moving to the city.
They need to call job service centres which will help connect them with hundreds of employers in need of thousands of positions.
“Consulting and job introduction activities, or even an interview for a new job, will be conducted online to save time,” he said.
His centre is offering job seekers a combo of a free job introduction, free COVID-19 tests and cheap or zero-đồng accommodations.
The city’s Health Department has asked local authorities and enterprises to quickly review and make a list of workers who have returned to the city and have yet to be vaccinated or have received one vaccine dose in order to give them two COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Businesses have shifted their adaptation to the COVID-19 pandemic from the “three on-site” model to “working safely amid the pandemic”, strictly complying with the Ministry of Health’s social distancing regulations and 5K message.
Over the last few weeks, the number of new infections has increased slightly in the city.
About 50 COVID-19 cases are being reported daily at factories in IPs and EPZs, accounting for 0.02 per cent of total workers.
COVID-19 tests for all workers once a week are required to early detect new infections, and to quarantine and treat patients to prevent the outbreak from spreading.
The enterprises have to spend hundreds of millions of đồng for testing every week, even though all their workers are fully vaccinated.
Nguyễn Anh Thi, head of Sài Gòn Hi-Tech Park’s management board, said a 200-bed medical facility was set up last week to quarantine and treat people who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.
The facility is run by staff from Bắc Mỹ General Hospital and the Thủ Đức city’s health centre.
Businesses in the park must pay for daily meals for their workers who are quarantined and treated.
Two other facilities are expected to be set up at Đông Nam Industrial Park in Củ Chi District and Linh Trung 2 Export Processing Zone in Thủ Đức City.
More similar facilities will be set up to promptly detect and treat infected workers, according to HEPZA.
Under the city’s Department of Health’s new guidelines for pandemic prevention and control, factories only need to halt the operation of the area where a newly detected COVID-19 patient worked for disinfection, and do not need to close down. —VNS