Vietnam probes case of workers sent as forced labor to Russia

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The Ministry of Public Security has started investigating a case in which more than 100 workers are suspected to have been sent illegally as forced labor to Russian factories.

According to the ministry's criminal police department (C45), charges of "human trafficking" could be filed against people involved in the case, following complaints filed by 81 workers who returned home last month.

They had worked for Vinastar and Garizon Open textile factories in Moscow, and were among 148 workers who had gone on strike and sought help from Russian agencies.

They were rescued and sent home, while the rest were sent to other factories.

Phap Luat TPHCM (HCMC Law) newspaper reported Tuesday that  C45 has identified three people who had illegally recruited some of the workers for Vinastar.

They showed contracts from the company to coax the workers into going to Russia, and took VND10-15 million ($474-711) from each.

C45 also found that 45 of the workers were sent to work at Vinastar by the Hanoi Investment and Construction Joint Stock Company 1 (HICC1) and another employment company in the northern province of Thai Binh, adding however that most were recruited by HICC1.

An official from the Department of Overseas Labor Management told Thanh Nien Tuesday that the two companies had also broken the law by sending the workers to Russia.

The contracts the workers signed with Vinastar were different from the ones they signed in Vietnam, he said, adding that many of the workers had been recruited despite not having the requisite skills.

Phap luat TPHCM reported that Russian authorities had found more than 20 workers at Vinastar were staying illegally in Russia.

It said the workers had complained to C45 that they were promised a monthly salary of $500-700 in Vietnam, but when they reached Russia the employers seized their passports and confined them in the factory where they had to work 12 to 18 hours a day without being paid.

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They were provided just  two meals a day and were not allowed to get treatment for sickness. The employers demanded thousands of dollars to allow them to go home.

A C45 official said since the case was "complicated" and involved workers from various provinces and localities and exchange of information with Russian agencies, the investigation would take time.

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