Migrant workers who ignored exhortations to stay and returned to their hometowns last year when Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in HCMC are rushing back to find new jobs.
On Feb. 6, the final day of the Lunar New Year festival, Duong Van Thanh, 37, took his daughter from their hometown in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap to Ho Chi Minh City.
Thanh had been unemployed for more than six months.
Before the fourth Covid-19 wave emerged in Vietnam in April last year, Thanh worked at a garment factory in HCMC’s Tan Phu District.
In July, the company moved its factory to Long An, another Mekong Delta province that borders HCMC.
As the house he had rented to live with his wife and two kids was as far as 50km (31 miles) away from the new workplace, Thanh decided to quit.
However, at the time he left the company, the outbreak in HCMC was at its peak and a lot of companies had either suspended operations or gone bust.
Given with social distancing measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, Thanh got zero opportunities to find a new job.
“Being jobless, I didn’t enjoy this Tet much,” he said.
After returning to HCMC, Thanh has lost no time in applying for jobs with several companies.
He said he may not be hired right away but at least there was some comfort in the fact that there were plenty of job opportunities now that he’s back in the city and not stuck in his hometown anymore.
“I believe I can find a suitable job soon.”
Bui Quoc Thai, 25, left his hometown in the Mekong Delta’s Tien Giang Province for HCMC on Feb. 4, with two days of the Tet holiday still left.
Thai quit his job with a company late last year as he was not happy with the remuneration and allowances given.
With many companies in HCMC resuming operations and needing employees, Thai believes he can find a job soon without much difficulty.
“Finding a suitable job is the most important,” he said.
According to the General Statistics Office, as many as 2.2 million laborers had returned to their hometown during the fourth Covid-19 wave last year. They were not swayed by authorities’ calls for them to stay put, having lived on the edge for months without jobs in fear of contracting the virus.
A survey by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs found that businesses need to hire around 700,000 laborers this year; while another study by the Ho Chi Minh City Center for Human Resources Forecasting and Labor Market Information (FALMI) found around 20,000 people wanting to find new jobs just before the Tet break – most of them migrant workers who had returned home last year.
When the outbreak was brought under control across HCMC and the neighboring provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai, the three localities hit hardest by the fourth wave, social distancing measures were eased in early October, and hundreds of thousands of migrant workers decided to return to their hometowns from each industrial hub.
In most cases, returnees explained they had run out of money after losing their jobs due to the Covid-19 outbreak; and home was their safest bet. Besides, they were all afraid of yet another outbreak with restrictions loosened, which would mean that they would remain stuck in their small rented rooms under strict social distancing with zero income and greater fear of the pandemic.
The FALMI study also found that businesses in HCMC needed 55,600 workers after the Tet break, especially in the textile-garment, footwear, manufacturing, food processing, mechanics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, rubber, accommodation and catering sectors.
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