Newly elected President Truong Tan Sang on Wednesday asked Vietnamese authorities and employers must better manage the country's foreign workforce.
Sang made the statement during a meeting with voters in Ho Chi Minh City after constituents in HCMC's districts 1 and 3 voiced concerns over the increasing number of unlicensed Chinese workers in several major projects across the country.
Sang said Vietnam had joined the World Trade Organization, and therefore the flow of foreign labor into the country was inevitable.
"The fact that foreign laborers enter our country is similar to our laborers working in other countries under labor cooperation agreements. Any guest worker must abide by local laws; any wrongdoing must be punished," Sang said.
"The most important thing is that Vietnamese authorities and employers must always keep management of foreign laborers tight."
Illegal foreign laborers have been in the national spotlight recently after local media uncovered huge numbers of unlicensed Chinese workers at several state-run projects.
The Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported Thursday that 178 of 310 Chinese workers at the Nhan Co alumina plant in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong have been working for four months without licenses.
The newspaper said 190 Chinese workers could not produce their certificates of qualifications, although they were registered by Chinese contractor Chalieco as "highly skilled workers."
Work on the Nhan Co alumina plant started last year under an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) deal between Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin) and China Aluminum International Engineering Co. (Chalieco).
On August 6, authorities in the Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau told the press that more than 1,000 Chinese laborers were working without licenses for a Vietnam-China joint venture in the province.
According to the provincial Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, Wuhuan Engineering Corporation (WEC), the Chinese contractor for the Ca Mau Fertilizer Plant, has employed more than 1,700 Chinese workers for the project.
Only 700 of them have labor licenses, the department said.
It has asked the contractor to submit papers for foreign labor recruitment as regulated by Vietnamese law as soon as possible.
Work on the US$900 million plant a joint venture between the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam), the WEC and the China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC) officially started in 2009.
The plant is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
It is part of the Ca Mau Gas-Power-Fertilizer Complex, which includes a gas pipeline, a urea plant and a thermal power plant in Khanh An Commune, U Minh District.