September 27, 2021, 5:21 pm

Life of coal workers

(10:51:59 AM 29/03/2014)
( - Beehive-shaped coal makers have to work 12 hours a day in hazardous environment. Most of them are rural men who flock to Hanoi in the hope of creating a better future.

The muddy, rugged road along the Red River, near the Ha Noi port is the home to many beehive-shaped coal making facilities. As the demand for coal is falling, some beehive-shaped coal making facilities were shut down. The remaining facilities have to change the business model and rely on their close customers.


A large coal enterprise with over ten workers can produce about 10,000 beehive-shaped coal pieces per day. Coal makers start working from 6am until 8pm, in the dusty environment of coal. They earn VND80,000-VND150,000 ($4-7) per day depending on the workload.

This work is hard and polluted but many people take their families to Hanoi to do this job together because this job brings more stable income than farm work. Working in a toxic environment,  only a few workers use masks and gloves.

Coal makers usually stick to this job for two or three years but Mr. Cong has been doing this job for nearly 20 years. Cong could not explain about his attachment to this job. He just knows that thanks to this job he could support his family and bring up his children.

Mr. Nguyen Van Thanh, 23 years old, has been a coal worker for three years. He said he did not study much and he could not have a job at his village so he went to Hanoi to be a coal worker. Doing this job, he feels comfort and at least he can take care of himself.


Mr. Cuong, from Quang Binh province, has pursued this job for over ten years. He hopes to accumulate enough money to settle down in his hometown.

Workers are trying to push the box of 2 tons of coal into the kiln.

Soot is harmful for health but workers don’t care about it. They only wish to be able to feed themselves and their families.


At the end of the working day, they clean the black soot from their hands. Large brushes are used to scrub the coal.

Cough and nose-diseases are very familiar with veteran coal workers. Mr. Nam said, each time he bathed, his ears and his nose were black with coal soot.

Coal workers cook right at their enterprise, using the beehive-shaped coal pieces they made.

To save living costs, coal makers usually live in the coal enterprises. 
Source: VNN

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