Wages cut amid pandemic, HCM City’s labourers have their burdens shared

August 11, 2020 - 08:51
Hundreds of thousands of workers in HCM City, both from official and non-official economic sectors, have lost their jobs permanently or temporarily.


A worker in HCM City's District 5 receives a present given by local trade union for labourers affected by COVID-19. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vũ

HCM CITY — The COVID-19 pandemic has had enormous impacts on the labour market in Việt Nam and being in one of the main economic hubs of the country, labourers in HCM City are suffering greatly.

Hundreds of thousands of workers in HCM City, both from official and non-official economic sectors, have lost their jobs permanently or temporarily.

Hoàng Thị Thảo Ly, a freelance worker in HCM City, has been struggling to make ends meet since her drinks shop in Bến Thành Market was closed due to a declining number of customers.

Her savings soon ran out as they were spent on her family’s expenses during this difficult time. Her son decided to drop out of classes at university to work at a local publishing house to help the family.

At the age of 50, Ly decided to look for another job although she knows it won't be easy, especially as employers in the service sector are streamlining personnel and struggling to survive. “The only job I can find now is working as a part-time domestic helper,” she said.

At a younger age, Nguyễn Văn Thành, a labourer in Bình Chánh District, left his job after his company narrowed production and switched to work as a motorbike taxi driver.

“The ‘new’ job is harder. I have to work from early morning till midnight no matter if it is sunny or rainy. But I have to try my best to earn money to pay our rent.

“The income is not as much as my old job but it’s still stable. The working time is so flexible that I can arrange my time to do housework and take care of my children,” he said.

Trần Thị Thanh Thuận, a kindergarten teacher at a private school in District 12, had her job suspended in the first wave of COVID-19. Not soon after schools reopened, the pandemic's resurgence forced her and other 20 colleagues out of their jobs.

The kindergarten cut down on personnel because it can no longer afford to pay salaries for teachers.

“Many good teachers can not find jobs at other schools because most of the schools are in the same situation. Schools which can survive do not recruit more staff. Some teachers spent their savings opening small shops or they work at restaurants,” she said.

According to the city’s Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, as of late July, more than 320,000 labourers in the city had to reduce working hours or had their jobs suspended or lost.

More than 98,000 labourers have applied for unemployment insurance.

According to a survey conducted by HCM City’s Statistics Office at 16,300 local enterprises, nearly 14,000 have been affected by COVID-19.

Due to a shortage of materials and having no orders, about 8,400 enterprises are at risk of bankruptcy or cutting down a large proportion of labourers.


To assist labourers, a number of businesses in HCM City, despite having to cut back production, do not fire workers but hold dialogues with them to find solutions.

Juki Vietnam Ltd Company, a Japanese business specialising in industrial sewing machines based in HCM City, gave its workers five days off per month in May and June and paid them 70 per cent of their basic wages while waiting for more orders.

Nguyễn Phước Đại, chairman of the company’s trade union, said the union spoke to workers and proposed the solution to the company’s board of directors. The company has maintained allowances for hard-working labourers.

Equatorial Hotel in HCM City also did not end let staff go but cut down on working hours to ensure no one lost their job. The hotel will not have to recruit or train new staff when the pandemic is over.

Companies like Nidec Vietnam Ltd and Samsung HCMC CE Complex agreed to pay 70 to 85 per cent of wages for labourers in quarantine.

Grassroots trade unions in HCM City have presented gifts to more than 630,000 COVID-19-affected labourers in the city.

For freelance workers, they have received money from the Government’s assistance package. Some landlords have also shared difficulties by reducing rental fees. — VNS