Worker dorm project fails to deliver

A HCM City inspection team visited Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone to oversee the building of worker tenement housing project on May 28. They found that the project was severely behind schedule.

A worker walks past a worker dormitory building near Pou Yuen (Vietnam) Holding Co. in HCMC

Tran Manh Chau, general director of South Saigon Development, which is investing in the building, said the project has 230 rooms for 1,130 workers but as of last month only half of those rooms were taken up.

Mr. Chau said workers’ housing demand is still great, but workers did not want to stay at tenement houses in the industrial zone because of inconvenience.

However, Sadeco is planning build two more residential areas with 160 rooms for 1,000 workers in the coming years, said Mr. Chau.

According to Tran Thanh Hong, deputy director of Tan Thuan export processing zone, investors need to provide a definite plan for worker dorms, including comfort, costs and access to clean water. 

If house prices are too high, workers will live outside the zone, he added.

Chief of the city's Budget Department Nguyen Minh Hoang said that at the current time, the city has provided just six percent of workers’ housing and the city budget is available funding to create only 30 to 40 percent of demand.

Mr. Hoang said the industrial zone needed to mobilize capital from businesses, as well as force them to bear responsibility for tenement houses and dorm projects.

Some 1,000 factories in HCMC's 15 export processing zones and industrial parks employ as many as 211,000 workers, with 70 percent coming from other provinces and struggling to find affordable accommodation.

This year, HCMC has provided nearly 1.3 million square meters of floor space for workers. However, businesses have invested in just 5.6 percent of the space, or around 16,000 rooms, while the other 400,000 rooms have been developed by individuals.

According to a report from HCMC labor union of export processing zones and industrial zones, the cost industrial zone workers have to pay for their life such as: cost of living space, food, medical care and other expenditures from January to May of this year increased by five to 20 percent.

The report said that textile and garment workers’ salaries are around VND1.7 million per month, including basic salary, allowance and over-time.

Meanwhile, the cost of living is between VND1 million to VND1.5 million per month. With little salary left, few have enough money for medical costs and sending money back home, the report wrote.

By staff writers – Translated by Thanh Huong

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