Police in Ho Chi Minh City said they are investigating a restaurant owner accused of exploiting and abusing at least six teenage workers.
Investigators started looking into the case earlier this month, after a 15-year-old boy allegedly fled from Ly Quoc Su Restaurant on Tran Nao Street in District 2.
A militiaman saw the exhausted boy waiting for a bus in District 9 on January 25. After learning his story, the militiaman helped bring the boy to a local police station to report the case.
According to the boy, the restaurant never paid him and other teenage workers. All the workers were banned from using a phone or leaving the restaurant after work.
Investigators last week found five other young employees, aged 15 to 17, at the restaurant. The boys said whenever they made a mistake, a supervisor would hit them on the legs with a leather belt.
Responding to the claim that the teenagers never got paid, the restaurant owner Nguyen Thi Tam said she would give them a lump sum when they stopped working for her.
“They are too young to keep money. I just want to prevent them from wasting their wage,” she reportedly told police.
Two of the teenagers have been sent back to their families. The rest are now in training centers.
Employers in Vietnam are not allowed to hire workers under 15 years old. Child labor remains a problem that the country is still struggling to end.