No job, no salary

When the morning just dawned, thousands of workers flocked to the thermopower plant in Tam Hung commune of Thuy Nguyen district in Hai Phong City, starting a new working day.

Meanwhile, the shipbuilding yards of the subsidiaries belonging to Vinashin, located not far from the plant, were still quiet. Sometimes people could hear the sound from hammers. The production could be seen at some workshops in the large area reserved for ship builders.

A lot of workers, including the ones who have devoted nearly all of their lives to shipbuilding yards, have to leave to look for new jobs, because they have become abandoned by Vinashin.

In fact, the giant can do nothing for its workers, since it still cannot settle old debts, lacks capital, lacks materials and equipment for production. Workers now can receive basic salaries for their current works, while have not gotten the salaries of many previous months.

The Nam Trieu Shipbuilding Company, a subsidiary of Vinashin, now receives fewer orders. Therefore, the number of workers has decreased sharply. Meanwhile, at its golden age, Nam Trieu had more than 7000 workers instead of the current 3800. A lot of them have left the shipbuilding industry.

Deputy General Director of Nam Trieu Company Phung Van Khoi complained that workers leave the company in the most difficult period. Nam Trieu now gathers its strength to build the 56,000 ton ship, while it lacks workers.

“We have to arrange three production shifts a day in recent days,” Khoi said.

“We hope that the year 2013 would be better, when we implement the contract on building 20 ships for Vinalines,” he added.

Laying off workers

The Bach Dang Shipbuilding Company has cut down its workforce from 3000 to 2457. In the first quarter of 2012, the company still had enough jobs for workers when building the 17,500 ton ship, the 14,600 ton cement carrier for the Nghi Son Cement Company and a 17,500 TEU ship.

However, the situation has become more difficult since the second quarter of the year. About 50 percent of its workers have been sitting idle.

The Pha Rung Shipbuilding company, which had 3000 workers, had to lay off 200 workers, while 600 others stay at home for 6-12 months due to the lack of jobs.

Bogged down in debts

Workers of the Nam Trieu Company presently only receive 3-4 million dong a month on average. Meanwhile, those who work in shifts get 1-2 million dong only.

However, even the modest pay has also put a heavy burden on the enterprise. Since March, workers have received 50 percent of the salaries in advance.

At the Bach Dang Company, since the second quarter, workers have got 2 million dong a month on average. The workers of Pha Rung Company were luckier with 3.8 million dong a month in the first six months of the year. However, the salaries have also decreased significantly recently.

Vinashin still has been struggling to survive the current difficulties. It has been trying to look for new markets in Latin America and Caribbean countries. However, if it gets new orders, it would face new difficulties – the labor shortage.

By Le Khac - VietnamNet Bridge - November 15, 2012