Shocking case of geographical profiling by southern Vietnam firms

TN News

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Many firms based in the southern province of Binh Duong, a busy industrial center, refuse to employ people from certain northern provinces, claiming they are prone to fighting and leading wildcat strikes.

This geographic profiling means job candidates from Thanh Hoa and nearby Nghe An, Ha Tinh Provinces are shunned.

Most company bosses in Binh Duong deny there was such profiling, but security guards and labor union officials admit that it is a strict unwritten rule, Lao Dong reported Wednesday.

A guard at a company in Song Than Industrial Zone, who is in charge of collecting job applications at the gate, said: "Sometimes I almost cry at seeing graduates with innocent and gentle faces being turned down.

"I know they are desperate to come such a long way down here for a job. But that is the company policy and I could not do anything."

Lao Dong could not reach the company's bosses, while HR personnel said they were too busy to talk to the newspaper.

Phi, a labor union member at the company, said a burglary caught on camera and a fight between workers and managers last month were both the handiwork of workers from Nghe An.

He said the company is checking all workers' antecedents after the incidents. But he refused a meeting to answer further questions.

A company director, identified only as T.V.P., admitted his company stopped hiring workers from the three provinces on the advice of his friends in other companies.

Other companies sent him photos and profiles of every worker that organized wildcat strikes, started fights, or stole at the company. In many cases, they were from Nghe An, Thanh Hoa, and Ha Tinh, he said.

"Gradually, I became uncomfortable myself about hiring people from those provinces," he said.

People from those provinces tend to support each other even for wrong causes, he said further. "They lead all wildcat strikes. If one of them is caught in a problem, others will all be supportive, and cause a ruckus."

He even tarred all their personalities with the same brush: It is easy for them to create trouble since they are bad-tempered and love drinking, he said. "They're too disruptive."

Le Son Hai, a native of Thanh Hoa Province and himself a company director, said he could understand where the firms came from, explaining they did not want to deal with "extreme" solidarity.

People from the same place tend to have each other's back, but bad behavior could even make solidarity look bad, he said.

Binh Duong, which has a large number of industrial parks, has more than 600,000 workers, nearly half of them from Nghe An, Thanh Hoa, and Ha Tinh.

Bui Thanh Nhan, vice chairman of the Binh Duong Labor Union, said workers from these places work harder than others and have contributed greatly to the development of Binh Duong.

But the unofficial ban has been in place since 2006.

Bich Hanh, chairman of the Binh Duong Industrial Parks and Export Processing Zones labor union, said it is hard to deal with the issue since businesses never say on the record they would turn down someone because of their origin.

If a business rejects someone citing their origin as the reason, they can file a complaint with her union, she said.

Nguyen Tuan Sinh, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City-based Mai Linh Transport Group which employs many people from Thanh Hoa and Nghe An, said businesses should improve their working conditions to stop workers from getting angry, instead of shunning those who are likely to protest.

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