Vietnam agency cautious with lucrative Africa labor contract

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Vietnam's labor authorities are checking an order placed by a Canadian company for construction workers needed in an African country with a high unemployment rate.

Representatives of three Vietnamese labor exporters have said that the Bangkok-based brokerage company Silver & Gold is known partner for the Libyan market and unlikely to introduce them to a fake deal.

The company is representing a Canadian gold mine developer which needs workers in impoverished Mauritiana.

However, Vietnam's Overseas Labor Management Board is still studying the order, the Saigon Tiep Thi newspaper reported Wednesday.

Last year, the developer, whose name has not been released, asked the three Vietnamese labor exporters - Song Hong, Vietnam-Japan and Viet Thang - to recruit 1,000 construction workers for salaries of between US$679-2,100 a month.

The workers would be sent to Mauritania, a developing country in West Africa, to build supporting constructions for a gold mine project.

The developer required men between 21-50 years of age, at least 1.58 meters tall, with at least a high school diploma and no criminal record.

They were needed for different positions including chefs, electricians, woodworkers, drivers, welders and construction engineers.

Besides the salary, the workers were promised accommodation, transportation, meals and necessary home comforts.

The labor exporters said they were very happy to receive such a good order when the market was slow and there was almost no interest in male workers.

Many prospective workers were also excited because the export fee was not high compared to their potential incomes. The fee is $3,000, irrespective of salaries, but the workers can pay $2,200 first and have the rest deducted from their salaries later.

Nguyen Van Dinh from the northern province of Hai Duong said he applied in October last year and thought that he would have left Vietnam in January.

But he was later asked to take back his money as the deal could not be carried out.

A representative from one of the Vietnamese exporters told Saigon Tiep Thi that "We have found that the order is not okay, so we are temporarily holding it."

Tong Hai Nam, an officer of the Overseas Labor Management Board, said Tuesday, "We have made two statements asking the three exporters not to carry out the deal yet. We have also asked them to carefully check the situation, even go to Mauritania if needed."

Nguyen Van Xuan, president of Viet Thang, one of the exporters, said the Mauritania government requires foreign businesses in the country to give priority to local laborers.

Thus, it has been difficult to get visas for Vietnamese workers to the country, he said.

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