Sunday , February 5 2023

Furloughed workers stay back for Tet to seek jobs


After he was furloughed by his factory, Le Van Thuan decided to stay back in Binh Duong Province during Lunar New Year where he would look for another job.

Staying back and not going back to his hometown would also help the family of three workers at Thong Nhat wood processing plant in Tan Uyen town reduce expenses, they agreed. Thuan has been on furlough since early December.

Four years ago his family of three left the southern province of Dong Thap for Binh Duong in the hope of earning enough to pay off VND40 million ($1,695) they had borrowed from a neighbor to repair their house.

But then the Covid pandemic struck, and for three years they have worked on and off and earned just enough to meet their living expenses.

Le Van Thuan lives in a boarding house in Tan Uyen town in Binh Duong Province. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tung

Le Van Thuan lives in a boarding house in Tan Uyen town in Binh Duong Province. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tung

The company’s order book began to shrink in the middle of last year, and workers’ overtime was reduced at first before they were told to work only for two or three days a week and got paid half their salary, or less than VND3 million a month.

He was furloughed but his wife and daughter were not and only had their working hours reduced. Their salary is enough to pay for the living expenses of the three.

The 38-year-old man has been running around looking for a job.

Two weeks ago he was hired by a contractor as an auxiliary worker with a daily wage of VND300,000.
He worked for a few days before the construction work stopped.

He applied at many companies, but was told they would hire him only after Tet in late January.

“If we go home for Tet, and don’t have money to return or return late, all jobs will be taken,” he said.
Thuan is one of more than 450,000 workers who have chosen to remain in Binh Duong during Tet, according to trade unions.

Dang Tan Dat of the Binh Duong Labor Union said most of them are underemployed or jobless due to their companies receiving fewer orders. “Maybe staying back will not be as fun as going home, but obviously job opportunities after Tet will be better.”

Many companies are receiving new orders, and would start production as early as on the fourth day of the new year, he said. Tet falls on January 22-26.

Factory workers return home after work in the southern province of Binh Duong. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tung

Factory workers return home after work in the southern province of Binh Duong. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tung

Nguyen Ngoc Yen, 35, joined an electronics company in the Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone in HCMC’s District 7 after her previous firm did not renew her contract as it had few orders.

She too has decided not to return to her hometown for Tet. The single mom said she feels guilty about not taking her son home for Tet, but “having a job is more important now.”

Tran Minh Ngoc, director of recruitment platform Viec Lam Tot, said some export-oriented manufacturing industries, especially garment and textile, footwear and electronics, would continue to get fewer orders, and so their demand for labor would be flat or even decrease.

“However, businesses will not stop hiring,” since factories would need new workers to replace people who quit for personal reasons, she said.

The HCMC Center for Forecasting Manpower Needs and Labor Market Information said even if the global economy continues to slow down, the city would need to hire 280,000-300,000 workers this year if its economy remains strong.

In a more optimistic scenario, the demand would be for 300,000-320,000 people, including 79,000-87,000 in the first quarter, it added.

Workers at Nha Be Garment Company in HCMC’s District 7. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong

Workers at Nha Be Garment Company in HCMC’s District 7. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong

Viec Lam Tot said in past years laid-off workers often worked seasonally or returned to their hometowns and looked again for jobs after Tet, and so labor supply would shoot up at the beginning of the new year.

However, this year unskilled workers are set to stay back in cities and look for full-time jobs before Tet so that they have a job waiting right after when factories reopen.

Nguyen Thi Minh Trang, who has recruited workers for more than 20 years, said she prefers to hire people before Tet because after the holiday there would be stronger competition for limited supply.

Those who seek jobs and work during Tet are often appreciated for their hard work and dedication.
But for many years workers have been apprehensive about starting at a new place before Tet because a one-year contract would mean no Tet bonus the following year.

To overcome this situation, employees could sign a 14-month contract or accept a one-month probationary period, Trang said, pointing out that factories that need workers would not refuse these requests.

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