Bùi Thị Bên, second from left, owner of rented house complex in HCM City's District 9, makes chưng cake for migrant workers who can not afford to go back to their hometowns to welcome the new year. Photo tienphong.vn
HCM CITY Phan Thị Tú, a textile factory worker in Bình Tân District, HCM City, has welcomed Tết (Lunar New Year) far from home for three years, and 2020 will be no different.
Since she had her second baby three years ago, Tú and her husband have barely been able to make ends meet. It would cost the four-member family about VNĐ7 million (US$304) to pay for transportation to their hometown in central province of Nghệ An, not to mention expenses on Tết (Lunar New Year) presents.
“We would have to spend several months of wages to go to our hometown. When Tết comes near, some of our relatives call and ask when we would go back. Due to financial difficulties, we can only say next year,” Tú told Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.
This year is the first time young woman Nguyễn Thị Thùy from the central province of Quảng Bình will welcome Tết in a city more than 1,000 km from her hometown.
Though she has worked for a footwear company in HCM City’s District 12 for more than a year, her small Tết bonus is not enough to go home.
“I gave all of my VNĐ10 million ($435) savings to my parents to buy new clothes for my younger sisters and brothers,” she said.
Migrant workers who can't get home for the festivities like Tú and Thùy usually gather with their neighbours at the rented house complexes on New Year's Eve.
Sympathising with migrant workers, Bùi Thị Bên, owner of a rental house complex in District 9, makes chưng cake and pickles, traditional Vietnamese New Year dishes, and gives them for free to the workers.
“I want to share and hope to make them feel warmth when they welcome Tết far from home,” she said.
Although Tết far from home is not as warm as in their hometowns, welcoming Tết with compatriots goes some way to softening the blow, Tú said.
According to unofficial statistics from HCM City, the city has about 2.2 million labourers.
A recent report at 11 foreign direct investment enterprises in Linh Trung I Industrial Park where 37,600 labourers work found the average monthly income per person is VNĐ6.2 million ($270).
Families with one child save only VNĐ300,000 ($13) per month on average, while those with two children struggle to make ends meet.
According to the Labour Federation of the southern province of Bình Dương, which hosts the largest number of enterprises and industrial parks nationwide, about 100,000 internal migrant workers will not return to their hometowns for the upcoming holiday for various reasons.
A number of labourers at industrial parks in Bình Dương feel desperate as their Tết bonus has been delayed until after Tết, Tiền Phong reported.
“I will be paid the wages of the last month before the holiday and my Tết bonus after the holiday,” said Trương Đan Huy, who works at Việt Hương Industrial Park.
Trần Thanh Liêm, chairman of Bình Dương Province’s People’s Committee, said the province would allocate more than VNĐ217 billion ($9.4 million) to support workers.
While many migrant workers cannot return to their hometown for Tết holidays, some others find themselves lucky enough.
As well as bonuses, enterprises in HCM City have offered supermarket vouchers and free train and bus tickets from the city back to Nghệ An and Thanh Hóa on January 20 (December 26 in the lunar calendar), which enables many workers to return home for the holiday for the first time in years.
Mai Thị Giang, working at Kenda Việt Nam Rubber Company in Trảng Bom District, Đồng Nai Province, will be reunited with her family after five years of separation.
“We can afford monthly living expenses. Going back to our hometown to reunite and welcome Tết is such a dream. The dream now has come true.” VNS