|People can buy such items as rice, cooking oil, eggs, vegetables at a prize of zero đồng at zero supermarkets in Bắc Giang Province. — Photo Vov.vn
BẮC GIANG — Holding a bag of rice from a zero-đồng supermarket brought home by his landlord, Lương Văn Hân could not hide his joy.
The 38-year-old lives in a locked-down area of Nội Hoàng Commune in Bắc Giang Province’s Yên Dũng District.
Hailing from Việt Yên District, Hân works for Luxshare-ICT Co.Ltd, located in Quang Châu Industrial Zone.
As the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in the industrial zone, he and many workers were unable to go out to buy daily essentials, so they asked the landlord to help with the shopping.
“Due to unpaid leave and limited savings, we have to be careful with our living expenses.
"Since having a zero-đồng supermarket, I have received rice, instant noodles, eggs and vegetables three times, so my life has improved,” he said, adding that 40 labourers in the neighbourhood benefited from the supermarket.
A similar situation has also reported at other industrial zones in the province.
Triệu Quang Định, a worker of Seojin Co. Ltd in Sông Khê-Nội Hoàng Industrial Zone, said over the past two weeks, he did nothing but use his phone to read news about the pandemic or chat with his family and friends.
Định is just one of more than 1,100 labourers of Sông Khê-Nội Hoàng Industrial Park facing difficulties due to COVID-19.
“As our company has suspended operations, we are struggling to make ends meet,” he said.
Thanks to a group of workers in the industrial park they learnt that the Labour Confederation of Bắc Giang Province opened the zero-đồng supermarket in the pandemic-hit area.
“With the opening of zero-đồng supermarket and support from the community, workers have more strength to combat the pandemic. We want to thank the confederation of labour and donors who have assisted us through this difficult time.
"We hope the pandemic will end soon so we can return to normal work," Định said.
Nguyễn Văn Nam, another worker, agreed: “What workers are most afraid of is losing their jobs and having nothing to eat, especially in times of the pandemic.
“Fortunately, the trade union provides timely support. Each of us receives 5kg of rice, one box of instant noodles and other necessities such as salt, fish sauce, green vegetables, milk and canned food," he said.
Leave no one behind
Thân Văn Dũng, a landlord in Nội Hoàng commune, said the area was under lockdown so workers had to stay in their rented rooms.
He was excited to go to the zero-đồng supermarket to receive assistance for the 27 workers who have rented rooms in his building.
“Most of them come from far away provinces and live in poverty so I feel pity for them,” Dũng said.
Phạm Văn Thịnh, head of Bac Giang Province's Commission for Mass Mobilisation, said the province has decided to temporarily close a number of industrial zones to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is estimated that about 67,000 workers have been put under lockdown in Việt Yên and Yên Dũng districts.
To ease their hardship, the province has set up zero-đồng supermarkets to supply people with essential goods such as rice, cooking oil, eggs, salt and sugar.
People can choose five items at a price of zero đồng. They are required to wear face masks and maintain a safe distance from each other while shopping.
The supermarket was introduced in Nội Hoàng Commune and Mỹ Diên Village (Việt Yên District) on May 22.
Just two days after opening, the supermarkets provided 100 tonnes of rice and tonnes of instant noodles, vegetables and other things to workers in locked-down areas.
"Seeing the effectiveness of the programme, the province has expanded it to other localities so no one is left behind due to the pandemic," Thinh said.
Twenty-one zero-đồng supermarkets have so far been established. The finance for the supermarkets comes from donations from organisations, individuals as well as provincial authorities.
Nguyễn Văn Bắc, vice chairman of Bắc Giang Province's Confederation of Labour, said the province has decided to provide assistance to workers with VNĐ2 million (US$87) per infection cases and VNĐ500,000 ($22) to F1 case and 5kg of rice to those in lockdown areas.
Bắc Giang is the biggest hotspot in the fourth wave of COVID-19 in the country since April 27 with more than 1,700 community transmission cases recorded.
More than 196,300 workers are off from work due to the pandemic, Bắc said.
He said in addition to the zero-đồng supermarkets, the confederation also set up emergency relief teams to provide aid to workers in quarantined areas. — VNS