Thousands of migrant workers have fled Ho Chi Minh City every week since the Kovid-1 lockdown was relaxed, raising fears of a labor shortage at one of Asia’s largest manufacturing centers.
Companies and analysts have warned that the pressure on workers will adversely affect the city’s operations, which are global suppliers of branded clothing, footwear, furnishings and other items from Nike to Ikea.
The deportation of workers will make Vietnam one of the fastest growing economies in the world, the last country to experience a shortage of cowardly-induced manpower that has destabilized Europe and the United States.
In the face of rising costs and Sino-US trade tensions, it will be a shock for a country that has presented itself as an attractive alternative to China for global manufacturers.
Factories in Ho Chi Minh City are facing a labor crisis after the lockdown was lifted, ”said Khem Wu of Global Sources, an e-commerce platform that connects Asian suppliers with foreign buyers. “If the human resource puzzle is not solved, the confidence of foreign investors and buyers will decline.”
Vietnam’s largest city, with a population of 10 million, is traditionally a magnet for both global brands that suppliers and immigrants from other parts of the country are looking for work.
However, in recent days the media and social media have shown pictures of people on motorbikes jamming roads and checkpoints as they leave the city, whose roads were much empty during the two-and-a-half months of severe lockdowns.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security said this week that Ch.5 million migrants were working in Ho Chi Minh City and the adjoining Binh Duang, Dong Nai and Long An provinces, of which 2.1 million wanted to return home.
In July, Vietnam imposed strict lockdown measures in Ho Chi Minh City and neighboring provinces, banning most traffic and setting up internal checkpoints within the district in the wider megacity.
Manufacturers who wanted to continue production would have to house and feed workers under a program called “Site Three”. The move has shocked business groups, who have complained about costs and warned Prime Minister Pham Chi Minh that the lockdown is forcing them to reverse their orders and move some production to another country.
Migrant workers were either confined to factories or – often, according to Khim – unable to reach their jobs. The latter group was forced to rely on emergency aid from the city or on their savings.
The Vietnamese government last month abandoned its “Zero Covid” strategy to contain new infections at all costs in favor of a more flexible approach.
On Thursday, Vu Duk Dam, the deputy prime minister, signed a package of measures to allow migrant workers to return home “safely and thoughtfully.” The package included transportation and Covid-1 testing or treatment for returnees to their home provinces.
Additional report from Hanoi Pham Hai Chung