Numerous workers were compelled to vacate the accommodations and hand them back to the homeowners subsequent to being terminated from their jobs.

Announcements regarding available rooms for rent have been posted at a higher frequency to provide more options to interested individuals.

However, the workers who choose to stay have a lot of concerns.

Recently, due to circumstances beyond their control, our colleagues have experienced a decrease in their allotted working hours, leaving them without the opportunity to work additional hours for extra income.

Struggling to meet financial obligations

Nguyen Thi Thao, a 35-year-old resident of Dong Thap province in the Mekong Delta, expresses her disappointment as she sits on a row of stone chairs outside a rented room. She shares that throughout her 17 years of being a worker, she has never experienced such low wages as she is currently facing.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a gradual reduction in the number of overtime hours she works.

As a PouYuen Company employee, Thao, who works in Binh Tan District as a supplier for Nike and Adidas shoes, no longer has the option to work overtime. Moreover, Fridays and Saturdays are now designated as off days.

Despite being currently employed, Thao is deeply concerned about the financial implications of her reduced and uncertain salary on her eight-year-old child’s school fees and other necessities.

According to reports from neighboring tenants, there have been an increasing number of farewell gatherings lately, as numerous individuals have been forced to vacate their accommodations due to repeated layoffs.

Due to the economic downturn, numerous individuals who have lost their jobs are seeking alternative employment options in order to avoid returning to their hometowns. Examples of these alternative jobs include working on construction sites or serving as waiters in restaurants and similar establishments.

Both workers, merchants, and lottery sellers are facing challenges as they are unable to generate the same levels of sales as before.

“In the past, the demand for rental housing in this area was incredibly high, leaving many individuals unable to secure a vacant room. However, the current situation has changed significantly, with numerous rooms now sitting vacant,” remarks Thao as she gazes at the line of rental rooms she resides in.

Thao and Tran Van Hoa, 55, both reside in the same alley and face challenging living conditions.

According to a recent statement, Hoa’s workshop ceased operations on May 20th, resulting in a significant number of employees becoming unemployed. Approximately 70% of the workforce were affected, while the remaining 30% were relocated to a different workshop.

Hoa is fortunate to have maintained his employment, albeit with reduced working hours. He now works four days per week due to the recent cuts in working hours.

“Due to the dwindling workload during regular hours, the current situation at our company has become insufficient to provide ample work for our employees. Consequently, requesting them to work overtime is no longer feasible,” expressed Hoa. He further highlighted the concerning circumstances by sharing that even his spouse, who also works at the same organization, has encountered difficulties.”

As young adults, the couple ventured from the north-central province of Thanh Hoa to Ho Chi Minh City in search of employment opportunities.

After dedicating 15 years to PouYuen Vietnam Company Limited, they diligently allocate the remainder of their salary, after subtracting living expenses, towards their three children’s education.

In the past, Hoa experienced physical exhaustion from working as a laborer. However, in the present, he not only endures physical fatigue but also grapples with anxiety and uncertainty. He harbors constant fear of potential job loss and lacks the ability to accurately forecast his monthly income.

Thuy Linh saves every penny to send money to her mother, who lives in her hometown, to pay for her children’s school fees. Photo: Dieu Qui / Tuoi Tre

Thuy Linh saves every penny to send money to her mother, who lives in her hometown, to pay for her children’s school fees. Photo: Dieu Qui / Tuoi Tre

In order to cover all necessary expenses, it is estimated that a minimum of US$4.2 is required to survive for a week.

Thuy Linh, a 26-year-old from the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang, and her husband reside in Alley 44 on Bui Van Ba Street in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City. Despite living far from the city center, they work diligently to make ends meet.

Linh is currently employed at a manufacturing firm located in Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone, situated in Tan Thuan Dong Ward, District 7. The firm specializes in the production of fans for international export.

Due to a decrease in new orders, she has been consistently returning home from work at 5:00 pm since the start of July.

During the previous months, she dedicated extended hours of work until 9:00 or 10:00 pm.

Linh is fortunate enough to have more luck than her husband, who has been unemployed since the start of the year and has struggled to generate sufficient income for himself.

Unfortunately, despite his persistent efforts, he has been repeatedly turned down for various job applications due to the ongoing trend of companies downsizing their workforce.

Unfortunately, he had to terminate his employment after a brief two-month stint. The employer had suggested deferring payments due to what they described as an incredibly challenging circumstance.

Linh has assumed the role of the primary provider for her family, shouldering the full weight of the financial responsibilities. This includes covering the costs of rent for their home, all living expenses, as well as sending money back to their hometown to support their children’s upbringing.

According to the woman, by working additional shifts, including Sundays, she can earn approximately VND11 million ($462) per month. In case she does not work extra shifts, she receives the base salary of VND5.5 million ($231) along with a few hundred Vietnamese dong in allowances.

She allocates just VND1 million ($42) per month for all living expenses after paying the rent.

The remaining earnings are sent to her mother, who resides in her hometown and provides care for her children.

In the upcoming academic year, Linh is making plans to cover the tuition fees for her eldest child’s preschool enrollment.

Last month, Linh and several other members of our staff were reassigned to work at a workshop located in Long An Province, which is located just outside of Ho Chi Minh City.

Thanks to her additional two hours of overtime each day, she managed to accumulate a total of VND7.2 million ($302) in earnings.

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, she was only able to receive her basic salary and a small allowance this month, leaving her with less than VND1 million for the entire month.

According to Linh, she currently has a weekly budget of VND100,000 ($4.2).

“I continue to cook meals at home to bring to the workshop, opting for more affordable food choices and reducing my intake of meat and fish. I have purchased a cheaper rice variety that costs VND11,000 [$0.46] per kilogram. On occasions when I ran out of rice, I resorted to eating instant noodles.”

As a mindful and eco-conscious individual, I choose to carry a personal supply of tea bags with me. This enables me to prepare refreshing and hydrating beverages throughout the day without the need to purchase bottled water from external sources. Additionally, I refrain from consuming any snacks during this period. By adopting these practices, I prioritize sustainable choices and reduce unnecessary waste.

According to the latest survey conducted by the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, it has been found that a notable 2.2 percent of Vietnamese workers are unaware of the practice of purchasing formula milk for their children.

The husband of the woman is currently unemployed, causing a lack of income in their household. As a result, their second daughter has been solely relying on regular consumption of fresh milk since she turned six months old. This situation arose when Linh had to return to her workplace and was unable to continue breastfeeding her child.

Saving every penny

In order to diversify her sources of income, Linh had previously attempted to sell products online. Unfortunately, she eventually had to discontinue this endeavor as she was unable to sustain herself in the highly competitive online marketplace alongside countless other sellers in a similar position.

“Despite my relentless efforts to generate income, I encountered substantial challenges in actualizing my financial aspirations,” expressed Linh.

She is currently striving to maintain her position at the company, recognizing the fortune of having a steady source of income.

“I am eagerly anticipating October, as there is an upcoming job recruitment opportunity for a part-time position at a Lunar New Year calendar workshop. In addition to my current role at a fan-making workshop until 5:00 pm, I have planned to dedicate my evenings from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm to assisting at the calendar workshop,” she explained.

“With a four-hour workday, I have the potential to earn VND100,000. This translates to an extra VND3 million [$126] per month. Such additional income would be greatly beneficial for my child and me.”

During uncertain times, Hoa encourages his wife to prioritize saving money in order to be prepared for potentially unstable job situations in the future.

“There are rumors circulating that another round of layoffs may occur in September,” said Hoa. “Instead of dwelling on the uncertainty, I will focus on performing my best while I still have a job. If I do become unemployed, I plan to return to my hometown and pursue a farming and cattle-raising livelihood.”

Looking for part-time work

The search for part-time jobs is not limited to blue-collar workers; white-collar professionals are also finding themselves in need of supplemental income.

Do Hoang Duy, a 25-year-old individual residing in Binh Tan District, Ho Chi Minh City, is currently employed at a prominent media company. Unfortunately, he has been facing a salary reduction for the past five months.

He actively sought out opportunities for part-time work, including freelance image design and video production services for small businesses.

Currently, job opportunities within the marketing field are limited due to cost-cutting measures implemented by numerous companies.

Several of Duy’s acquaintances have resorted to seeking additional work opportunities, such as engaging in online sales or collaborating with friends to establish a takeaway coffee shop.

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