Strongly slowed down by the Delta variant wave this summer, the Vietnamese locomotive, one of the best performing economies of 2020 (2.9% growth), is looking to pick up speed. One of the new workshops in the world (with its textile factories, household appliances, etc.) for Western countries was severely disrupted by the strict confinement of the Ho Chi Minh City region in early July, then by the lack of workers when the restrictions were lifted at the end of September.
For good reason, 1.3 million migrant workers from the countryside returned to their native region from July to September, according to the government. Many were traumatized by the very strict restrictions they had to endure: in Ho Chi Minh City, no one was allowed to go out, the army delivering the meals. Wages have been cut and overtime cut, and workers say they have had to stick to a few basic foods for their meals. The only factories allowed to remain open were those that had chosen to house their workers there – under spartan conditions. However, some then ended up with clusters …
The country of 97 million inhabitants, whose exports doubled from 2015 to 2020, reaching 283 billion dollars (250 billion euros), experienced the shock of the delayed Covid-19: it had counted only 35 deaths until… April 2021. But the Delta variant caused contamination to flare up from July, pushing the government to abandon its zero Covid policy at the end of September. The number of deaths exceeded 25,000 on Monday, November 29. After a decline in the epidemic in October, it rebounded in early November, with 13,000 contaminations per day – for a population of doubly vaccinated a little more than 50 %.
Workers who have left Ho Chi Minh City and the industrial regions of the South are reluctant to return. “The factories may offer wages and better benefits to attract workers as their end-of-year order books fill up, they receive few applications amid persistent fear of Covid-19”, worried, on November 29, VnExpress International, the English version of the first Vietnamese news site.
The Bloomberg agency reported in November that a Nike subcontractor was offering its workers $ 100 a month in bonuses – or a quarter of the salary – and that a New Balance supplier was promising free transportation for those returning to Ho Chi Minh City. Companies polled by the Vietnamese press say they offer 100% of the salary for the first two months of the trial of new recruits – compared to 80% in normal times – and allowances for pregnant women and mothers of children under 6 years.
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