Apple, Samsung suppliers in Vietnam have sleepovers to prevent COVID-19 from cutting production
Bloomberg writes that Vietnam is suffering from a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. Years ago, the collective health of factory workers in Vietnam might not have mattered much to the global economy, but these days Vietnam has become a global tech sector where companies like Apple and Samsung have deals with contract manufacturers to build some of their most popular devices.
With COVID-19 remaining an issue in Vietnam, 150,000 workers manning assembly lines in the northern provinces of Bac Ninh and Bac Giang live in industrial parks in order to lessen the risk of getting infected. This area is a key manufacturing hub that is home to important Apple and Samsung suppliers. Thousands of factory workers have been sleeping inside the factories they work in.
Apple, Samsung suppliers allow some employees to sleepover on the floor of some factories
For example, in the commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City, 22 companies with a combined workforce of 25,000 people have set up their factories to allow an unspecified number of workers to sleep over. The report from Bloomberg states that the workers are sleeping on metal bunk beds with bamboo mats. Tents have also been set up on cement floors and workers are quarantined untill they test negative after returning from home.
Tents sent up on the floor of a factory in Vietnam
Nguyen Thi Mai, 28, has been working for a Samsung supplier in Bac Giang for two years and says, "It’s strange to live in a factory and a bit difficult to sleep at first. But my colleagues and I understand that it’s necessary and just temporary."
Besides trying to arrange these sleepovers, the Vietnam government has been working hard to make sure that quite a few factory workers are getting vaccinated including 400,000 jabs that have been set aside for Samsung employees and workers for other global suppliers in Bac Ninh and Bac Giang provinces. As of earlier this month, the country had 4% of its population of 98 million vaccinated. By early next year, Vietnam hopes to have received enough shots to cover 75% of its population.
While Vietnam was able to keep the pandemic away during its early days, this past April the number of people getting infected in the country was on the rise. As a result, factories were closed temporarily including those used by Foxconn Technology Group and Luxshare Precision Industry Co.; the latter is the manufacturer that builds most of Apple's AirPods products.
The big thing is that by allowing workers to camp out in tents on the floor of the factory, employees like 25-year old Le Thanh Hoa can continue to earn a paycheck even when parts of the country are in lockdown. Le Thanh says, "We sleep in tents the company set up on the factory's floor. I miss my parents sometimes but it’s actually quite nice to sleep in the factory because we have air conditioning 24 hours a day, unlike my home where it is very hot."
At the start of this month, only 4% of the population had received the vaccine
The country has worked with firms like Luxshare to "to have them arrange for their workers to sleep in the factories and in dormitories while also having them tested every week." Nguyen Dai Luong, chairman of the People’s Council of Viet Yen district said that this "has significantly helped stop the virus spread and enabled factories to resume operations quickly."
Foxconn, which is considering moving production of some iPad units to Vietnam, says that it has been "working closely with the Vietnamese government to ensure that we are able to comply with all relevant public health requirements." Alain Cany is the chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, and he says that it is important to prioritize factory workers when disseminating the vaccinations. He adds that it is critical to keep the economic impact of the virus at a low level.