A recent survey revealed that more than 70 per cent of garment workers suffer from occupational stress and that levels have increased with the approach of Tet.
The survey of 1,000 by HCM City’s Institute of Public Health and Hygiene of in Dong Nai Province, Binh Duong Province and HCM City revealed that 710 workers dealt with different levels of stress at their workplace. Sixty-four per cent of those had lost interest in the current careers because of the boredom caused by repetitive actions.
Junior-level workers tended to show heavier stress levels and took more days off than senior workers. Eighty-six per cent of workers in foreign-invested companies were stressed out, 20 per cent more as compared to those who work for domestic enterprises, according to the survey.
Head of the institute’s Department of Labor Protection and Occupational Diseases Trinh Hong Lan said that working as a garment sewer was rather boring, exhausting and ill-paid. For these reasons, many workers looked forward to better jobs instead of focusing on their current one, he added.
Nguyen Tung Van, chairman of the Viet Nam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) Trade Union, said workers’ rights, such as shift work, extra pay for overtime hours, social and health insurance premiums, and maternity leave were sometimes ignored, which contributed to employee stress.
Van added that 216 employee strikes broke out in the country last year. More than 52 per cent of them were in the garment sector and nearly 73 per cent were at foreign-invested businesses.
Nguyen Thi Nhung, a garment sewer for Hoang Ha Co said that she worked 28 days each month for 10 hours each day to make VND3 million ($157).
"I only get a monthly salary. There is no health insurance, no bonuses and no days off," Nhung said.
"I’m really tired and need rest because I’m four-month pregnant. But I have no other choice. I was lucky to get this job anyway, or I would be unemployed," she said.
According to Lan, millions of laborers work for the garment sector nationwide, so employers should improve working environments, and identify sources of stress and attempt to ease them.
To deal with the situation, Tran Hao Tri, union secretary of HCM City’s Export Processing and Industrial Zones Authority (HEPZA), said a project to improve the spiritual life of workers was under way.
Two common areas worth approximately VND80 billion ($4.2 million) would be built in the Hiep Phuoc Industrial Zone and the Linh Trung No1 Processing Zone where a variety of community activities would be held, including regular entertainment, such as free movies, music performances and trade fairs, as well as healthcare services for workers, he said.
A meeting hall worth VND300 million ($16,000) has been constructed and three football pitches are under construction to promote the health of the workers.
Tri also said the management board would give 5,500 bus tickets and 2,000 sight-seeing tickets to poor workers for their Tet holiday trips home. As many as 1,500 disadvantaged employees would also receive a VND300,000 (US$15) bonus.
Those who cannot return to their hometown for the holiday were welcomed to participate in the Tet festival programme which began last week. Many products would be on sale with special offers of between 10 and 50 per cent off during the holiday, he said.
(Source: Vietnam News)