Mining group Vinacomin cuts working hours as sales slow

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State-owned coal and mining group Vinacomin has shortened working hours for its employees as it cuts back on production amid slumping local consumption and exports.

Many mines operated by the group have asked their workers to take six days off every month, reducing their income by 15 percent compared to the same time last year, reported, citing Vinacomin Deputy Director Bui Van Khich.

Vinacomin has 138,000 employees on payroll. Most of them work in Quang Ninh Province, the country's coal mining hub.

"We plan to cut production further in the third quarter and reduce output by three to four million tons. That means working hours and benefits for workers will have to be reduced," Khich said. "We may slash jobs and try to retain 50,000 mine workers only."

He said coal consumption by electricity, cement and steel producers has been low this year. Local sales are now projected to be around 25-26 million tons, compared to the original target of 32 million tons.

The annual export goal of 13.5 million tons will likely be missed too, he said, noting that coal exports reached only 8 million tons over the first eight months.

Vinacomin is asking the government to lower export taxes from 20 percent to 10 percent so that it can boost shipments. The group, which said it is selling coal below cost to power producers, has also asked for permission to raise prices.

Coal miners are not the only ones being hurt by the economic downturn.

Vietnam Steel Corporation said last month that as of the end of July, 900 of its 14,000 employees were regularly out of work due to output cutbacks.

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