Social Justice, Vietnam
Impact on Workers in Vietnam's Apparel and Footwear Sectors
The study aims to document the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on female migrant workers in Vietnam’s apparel and footwear industries over a period of six months, from February to July 2020, focusing on: (i) economic impacts (employment, income); (ii) health impacts (access to health services, healthcare, and infection prevention); and (iii) social impacts (constraints on families and individuals; need for future support). The study will contribute to helping stakeholders (governments, businesses, mass organizations, and social organizations) recognize the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to build measures to minimize them, and improve lives and jobs for workers in the apparel and footwear industries, especially female migrant workers, both during and after the pandemic.
This report is in two parts. Part A, the Desk Review, a summary of secondary sources, draws on published material that addresses the structure of Vietnam’s clothing and footwear industries and the impacts of the economic downturn on businesses and workers in those sectors. The Desk Review was conducted as an end in itself and as a basis for designing and implementing the original research described in Part B of the report. Not only does it detail short-term impacts on businesses and workers (through 2020), the Desk Review also outlines structural challenges affecting the sector and suggests government policy responses to address longer-term issues. Part B of the paper summarizes the key results of social surveys of workers displaced from apparel factories in three of Vietnam’s provinces. The survey results essentially confirm the impacts indicated in the Desk Review whilst adding qualitative details regarding the apparel sector, illustrating the struggles which workers of the sector’s factories are facing due to the rapid, massive, and of course unforeseen changes to their lives.
Part B is based on findings from interviews conducted by the CDI research team. The data reported in Part B of the report comes from field research conducted in three provinces of Vietnam on the impacts of COVID-19 on female migrant workers in the apparel and footwear industries. The CDI conducted complementary social research in three provinces where apparel and footwear factories are concentrated: Hai Duong, Dong Nai, and Da Nang City. The survey research is funded by the Rosa -Luxemburg-Stiftung. Part B of the paper also refects some key results of a social survey conducted by CARE International which covered 1280 workers from 126 apparel and footwear companies in five provinces (Hai Duong province, Dong Nai province, and Haiphong, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City) through face-to-face and telephone interviews. Six textile enterprises and 88 people across those three provinces were interviewed.
Information from these two surveys has been shared and coordinated with a public-private partnership (PPP) initiative to explore the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses and workers in the apparel and footwear sectors.
This report is made by researchers including Dr. Ngo Minh Huong, Nguyen Thi Loi, and Kim Thu Ha of the Center for Development and Integration, supported by the Rosa-Luxemburg- Stiftung, for the purpose of conducting research on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on female migrant workers in the apparel and footwear sectors in Vietnam from June to December 2020.
From the social surveys, the survey results systematically confirm the range of impacts summarized in the Desk Review and add much detail on those impacts on the lives of real workers. During the interviews, special attention was paid to the adequacy or otherwise of government policies in cushioning the economic downturn’s impact on workers.
- Based on the Desk Review and the social surveys, the following policy suggestions should be proposed to the government to support post-COVID recovery and to cushion the impacts of similar events in the future:
(a) Criteria for access to current government-funded relief should be adjusted so that more workers can access support. In addition, the policy should extend the period of entitlement.
(b) The government should establish policies to create favourable conditions for businesses to borrow with the aim of paying employees' salaries when customers cancel their orders or fail to pay, causing enterprises to fall into a situation where they cannot afford to pay salaries. The state can lend to businesses at low or zero-percent interest rates tosupport businesses, and thereby to protect workers’ lives and livelihoods.
(c) The government needs to expand the bailout programme for workers by linking with credit institutions that have credit products, to help women deal with outstanding debts.
(d) The government should consider allowing businesses to delay payment of social insurance premiums during times of zero production and zero new orders due to natural disasters.
(e) Insurance policies need to be revised so that workers are able to purchase their own health insurance to ensure that they will be covered whenever they get sick, even when they lose their jobs.
Author: Center for Development & Integration
Hashtags: #Apparel #Footwear #covid19