Located on an area of one square kilometer, the ‘technology town’ in the northern province of Bac Ninh, on the eastern border of Hanoi, is mostly home to young people, with a total population of over 38,000.
The ‘town’ of mainly under-21 year olds consumes six tons of rice, five tons of meat, and ten tons of watermelon every day.
To provide daily meals for such a large number of workers, as many as 736 staff were recruited to work in the canteens at Samsung Bac Ninh.
To pick up the 38,000 residents in the morning and return them home in the evening, 200 buses drive a total distance of 40,000 kilometers a day, a distance which equals the perimeter of the Earth.
The ‘town’ is the popular name of the Samsung Electronics Vietnam Company in Yen Phong District. The site contains numerous stories that few outsiders can hear about.
The first lesson of the ‘town residents’
Regardless of what their position is at the company, every worker for Samsung Vietnam must go through a six-day, four-night training session and perform normal physical exercises before starting to work. The requirement is that individuals must keep regular movements in a group. With just a single faulty movement of an individual, a whole group must redo the exercise.
Once, a group had to perform a movement for four hours after they repeatedly failed to do it in unison.
This method helps individuals realize that they can’t influence their team, said Pham Van Truoc – head of the training department of Samsung Vietnam in Bac Ninh.
The ‘town’ gets up at 7:30 and becomes active with tens of thousands of ‘bees’ in white-striped blue uniforms commuting on internal roads as wide as 20-30 meters.
The majority of the ‘town’s’ residents are female and under 21 years old.
“Most of Samsung’s workers are new high school graduates with an average age of 21,” said planning director Kim Yong Seok.
In exact numbers, the town has 38,256 staff, including 8,300 men and over 29,900 women. On average, women account for 3.6 times more than their male peers.
With such a large amount of women, the firm receives around 13 requests for maternity leave per day.
Vu Dinh Thuan, a male worker from the neighboring province of Hai Duong, said, “Working here makes it easier to find a wife,” while pointing towards his wife, Hoang Thi Phuong, his colleague at Samsung.
Why is it easier? Thuan said Samsung gives each worker VND3 million (US$144) to marry a partner, and assigns a 45-seat bus to transport, free of charge, guests to a wedding party.
Thuan didn’t go so far as to say it is easy to have a child while working for Samsung, but admitted, “it’s less difficult to have a child” because employees have more days off.
“We are off four Sundays and two Saturdays a month. It seems normal, but you may not get this if you work for other companies,” Thuan said.
“Pressure at work is universal, Samsung too,” Thuan said, sharing that he wants to work long-term for Samsung at Bac Ninh.
Another couple at Samsung in Bac Ninh, Ung Sy Ngoc Phach and Nguyen Thi Hai Phuong, discussed why they prefer working for the firm, “My company has buses that take us to and from home everyday within a radius of 50km from the factory.”
The couple earns VND5-6 million (US$240 – 288) each every month.
At Samsung, the word ‘worker’ is not used because it creates a feeling that there is discrimination. They are all called ‘staff’, including ‘manufacturing staff’ and ‘office staff’.
During Tet (Lunar New Year), members of the executive committee of Samsung donate two-way bus tickets to employees and wait at the entrance gate to see off their staff heading home to enjoy the traditional holiday.
Employees in certain areas of the ‘town’ are required to sign a pledge that they will never reveal information on Samsung products, especially during the research and production phases.
The production of a new product, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 may be halted to replace technical and design features if they are revealed to the public.
“Samsung Vietnam in Bac Ninh is one of the first factories in the world to produce the latest products of Samsung, only after Samsung South Korea,” said Shim Won Hwan, general director of Samsung Bac Ninh.
At special areas used to test-produce the latest products, the atmosphere is quite secluded and dust is counted in specks per cubic meter. The uniforms in the special areas are sterilized and immune to dust.
Samsung Bac Ninh uses a complicated scanning system with 30 gates covered by dozens of security staff, but theft has occurred.
The issue has been a headache of the firm.
This doesn’t just mean a loss of assets, but more importantly, it reveals secret information before a new product is officially released.