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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs       10  February 2011

Vietnamese firms have labor shortage

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The pressure of workers not returning after the year's biggest holiday, Tet (Lunar New Year), is posing a serious problem for labour-intensive enterprises.

"There will be a serious shortage of laborers after Tet," said Nguyen Thi Tong, deputy secretary of the Viet Nam Leather and Footwear Association. "It would be a huge challenge for enterprises who have to fulfil signed export contracts."

Leather and footwear enterprises are the ones facing the highest risk of losing workers after Tet because a large number of contracted workers return to their hometowns in provinces for the week-long holiday and tend to stay back for longer periods.

The past years have seen workers having a tendency to take the Tet holiday, which closes off a working year, as a chance to quit their job. Poor pay and bad working conditions have been blamed for this trend. The past five years have seen this trend spreading, badly affecting their employers' business.

Along with the footwear industry, garment enterprises also use a large number of laborers from provinces, and are also faced with a similar exodus, resulting in a 10-15 per cent reduction in their production capacities.

The monthly salary that a garment worker earned last year was between VND3-4 million (US$150-200) in big cities and VND1.7-3 million ($85-150) in provinces. To keep their workers, many enterprises have increased salaries by 10-20 per cent every year. Other businesses, like Nha Be and Viet Tien garment companies, have supported their migrant workers with money to return home for Tet. Some companies, including Gia Dinh Garments, even organise buses to bring its workers to their hometowns for the Tet holiday.

There are many other reasons for the tendency among workers to quit their jobs after Tet, besides the poor pay.

High inflation has resulted in an increase in the cost of living in big cities, which makes it all the more difficult for those workers whose wages have not improved. Hence many of them choose to work in their home provinces, where they earn less but do not have to deal with high living costs.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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