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Vietnam: Electronics workers face non-payment of wages, inability to return home, and lack of subsistence

Author: Electronics Watch, Published on: 28 May 2020

COVID-19 Updates from Monitoring Partners, 28 May 2020

An anonymous migrant worker manufacturing electronic components for a foreign direct investment enterprise in Vietnam describes the impact of COVID-19 on migrant workers' lives. 

"COVID… directly impacts the lives of migrant workers… Enterprises can neither export their goods nor import raw materials for production because the majority of materials for producing electronic components are made in China. Electronics companies’ partners… cut… about 30-50% of orders.

- Therefore… workers’ income falls… sharply… [to] about 50-60%… Some enterprises have to close... workshops or factories temporarily and offer workers to take [time] off without salary payment from one to three months.

- Workers cannot return to their hometowns due to social distancing restrictions. They are also afraid of bringing illness to their family members so they had to stay in their renting houses...

- Food prices rise high… Only some landlords… reduce [rental housing] prices… [Workers] have to save as much as they can… to buy foods [by] using less electricity and water and calling for their families to send rice and foods.

In order to protect workers better in the context of the COVID-19 crisis I think we need to carry out some solutions…

- Firstly, the Labor Confederation needs to… quickly implement the social protection package, monitor enterprises’ compliance… if [companies] unilaterally terminate labor contracts with unwarranted reasons such as arbitrarily organising a draw to choose who will be laid off or requiring workers to sign unpaid leave agreements. 

- Secondly, Enterprises need to support workers in order to ensure a minimum living standard… adapt to this situation, and stabilise production when the pandemic is over. 

- Thirdly, electronics enterprises’ partners need to consider the effects on workers in the whole supply chain, to ensure not to cancel… or suddenly reduce orders, and also need to care for employees working in production facilities. Finally, the Labor Confederation…, People’s Committees, and leaders of residential areas need to encourage landlords to reduce rental housing prices, electricity prices and water prices…”

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