"There is a close link between the global economic recovery and the shortage of workers in the garment and textile sectors," said Pham Thi Lieu, chief executive officer of a Hanoi-based clothes producer and exporter.

"Garment and textile companies are short about 200,000 workers across HCM City and Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces," said Mai Duc Chinh, deputy chair of Vietnam's Trade Union Association.

The sector was receiving more orders from abroad, and therefore needed more workers, but the hard, long hours and relatively low pay were not attracting enough recruits, Lieu said.

"Many workers have left my company to find higher-income jobs," Lieu said. "We have lost about 10 percent of the labour force this year. We have to recruit workers all the time."

Adding to the wage problem, the garment and textile companies are often located in urban, relatively high-priced areas, Chinh said.

Factories were relocating to address this problem, said Le Quoc An, chair of Vietnam's garment and textile association.

"In order to maintain or expand production, many companies are moving their factories to the countryside areas where they can recruit workers," said An.

Lower salaries were more acceptable in the country, said Tong Thi Minh, head of the Salary Policy Department of the labour ministry. Livings costs were lower, and workers were often able to stay in their family homes and not pay for extra accommodation, she said.

"However, moving companies to the countryside areas is only a temporary solution," Minh said. "People eventually tend to find better work than sewing."

Vietnam exported 5.8 billion dollars of garments and textiles in the first seven months of 2010, up 17.4 percent from the same period the previous year, the general Statistical Office reported.

Deutsche Presse Agentur - July 29, 2010