Drivers demand deposit refund from Hue-based transport firm

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Thirty four drivers in Thua Thien-Hue Province on Thursday gathered outside a transportation firm's office, demanding refunds of their security deposits.


Jobless since early January as the firm had failed to get new number plates and licenses for 34 Hyundai buses, the drivers learnt that the vehicles were being sold, and rushed to get their dues as well as their deposits back.


Le Chi Nguyen, leader of the drivers and labor union chairman of the transport firm Hukotrans, said each of them had to pay a security deposit of VND45 million (US$2,370) to drive the 45-seat bus and VND15 million ($791) for 30-seat bus.


The money was supposed to be returned to them when they stopped working without losing or damaging the bus, Nguyen said.


On Thursday morning, the drivers heard a Hanoi company was about to buy the vehicles.


So they came to force Hukotrans to return the guarantee money, as well as other benefits mentioned in the labor contract.


Hukotrans management on Thursday promised to return the guarantee money. Six drivers had got their money as of Friday evening, and the others were still waiting.


The company imported the buses in 2005 but they were undocumented.


Thua Thien-Hue traffic police had given the vehicles temporary number plates and registration licenses every three months. They revoked the plates and licenses in early January and refused to renew them.


Tran Thi Kim Nhan, deputy head of the province traffic police department, told Thanh Nien on Friday that former leaders of the department had granted the temporary permits the company asked for since the number of legal vehicles then were not enough to meet tourism demand, particularly during festival or holiday occasions.


Hyundai buses were taxed 90 percent in 2005 if imported legally. Hukotrans had therefore evaded tax worth several billion dong, given that the buses were then priced at VND1.63-1.65 billion each.


The company was established in 2002 as a joint venture between Huong Giang Tourism Company and a South Korean firm.


In 2005, the gem company The Gioi took over Huong Giang's stake in the firm.

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