Workers turn their backs on Hanoi industrial parks

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Le Thi Hien walked away with utter discontent after glancing at a steel company’s job vacancy announcement at Quang Minh Industrial Park in Hanoi.

“The salary is too low, even lower than that of a domestic help in the city. Moreover, the workplace is noxious,” she said.

The 19-year-old from Thanh Hoa Province, 150 km south of Hanoi, intended to continue working as a nanny for a family at a monthly salary of nearly VND2 million ($105).

The low salaries are partly the cause for the inability of many firms based in Hanoi industrial parks to find workers and meet the increasing orders coming in following the economic recovery.

At the Noi Bai and Quang Minh parks, job vacancy announcements can be seen everywhere on company gates, trees, and electric poles. Most firms are seeking to employ mainly women workers for seasonal work in the garments, woodwork, footwear, steel, and electronic sectors.

A producer of home decorations for export in Quang Minh Industrial Park has even put its recruitment notice at the park gate. It requires 200 workers aged 20-35 and offers a monthly wage of VND1.5 million.

“Few people have applied since the firm made the announcement (on December 25),” Luu Van Du, a security guard at the park, said. “There are days when just a single person applies.”

The situation is no better at the Thang Long Industrial Park, which houses mostly foreign-invested firms, where there are dozens of recruitment announcements, many for hundreds of employees.

Most firms offer to pay accommodation and transport allowances and health and social insurance premiums and promise regular raises. But few people stop to read them.

Nguyen Thi Thu Hang, a personnel officer at steel production and trading firm Trang An based in Quang Minh Industrial Park, said recruiting workers has become a widespread problem in the industrial park.

Despite putting up recruitment notices a long time ago and offering a salary of over VND1 million, her firm has been unable to find 50 seasonal workers.

Dang Minh Thuan, vice chairman of the Hanoi Labor Federation, said, “Most firms in industrial parks face a shortage of workers, especially manual workers.”

Firms have begun to receive more orders as exports rebound on the back of the economic recovery, but rural people now prefer higher-paying jobs in the city instead of working at industrial parks unlike in the past, he said.

Many others do not want to leave their villages before Tet (lunar New Year), he said.

Some firms are also grappling with a labor shortage because they axed a large number of workers in late 2008 at the height of the recession, he added.

Nguyen Thi Thuy, who works for Marumitshu, a company producing woodwork for export, said of the seven employees in her division, none have worked for more than a year.

“The work is hard while the salary is low. So we are ready to leave at any time for better jobs. Our company always faces a laborer shortage and makes recruitment announcements almost all year round.”

Bustling mobile labor market

In contrast, the migrant labor market has begun to bustle at the year end.

Hundreds of workers gather near Hanoi markets on streets like Giang Vo, Nguyen Trai, and Minh Khai looking to work as porters, masons, and housekeepers.

The migrants, uneducated, unskilled and hailing from poor rural areas, come to the city to augment their meager incomes following harvests and other seasonal farm work.

The number of these workers has surged in recent days since it is a good time for them to find high-paying jobs because of the increasing demand for people who can clean and decorate houses and offices, work as domestic help, and make candies and cakes for the lunar New Year which falls on February 14.

Waiting on a sidewalk along dusty, crowded Giang Vo Street, 38-year-old Tran Van Nam of Ha Nam Province said, “Normally, there are some 20 people waiting for work here. But now the number has increased to 100.”

Nam earns VND70,000-200,000 a day, depending on his work. “The number of working hours is often fewer than at a company while the income is the same. So I do not intend to work in industrial parks.”

Reported by Bao Van

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