Vietnam to expel undocumented Chinese workers

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The Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs has pledged to deport undocumented Chinese workers from Vietnam after more than 1,000 illegal laborers were found at a construction project in the southernmost province of Ca Mau.

"Firstly, we will ask those satisfying the required criteria to register in accordance with Vietnamese laws," said deputy minister Nguyen Thanh Hoa. "We will report others to the police who have the authority to expel them. It is necessary to be strict in deporting illegal foreign workers."

On August 4, Ca Mau's labor department inspected the construction site of the Ca Mau Gas Power Fertilizer project and found 1,056 unregistered Chinese workers.

This was 198 more than the findings of a previous inspection on July 2, when Ca Mau authorities found 858 undocumented Chinese workers at the site.

Hoa said the maximum fine levied on employers for violating foreign labor documentation regulations is only VND30 million (US$1,445). As such, he said, the fine is too low to act as a deterrent.

"The investor and project management unit are also responsible for ignoring regulations that require them to report the number of foreign laborers and provide their documentation to local authorities," he told the Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper in a recent interview.

Labor minister Pham Thi Hai Chuyen told the press that her ministry will review the Ca Mau Gas Power Fertilizer project.

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"I have asked provincial labor departments to report to the ministry about the situation, cite possible reasons for the issues, and propose solutions to the illegal foreign labor problem in Vietnam," she said.

On August 15, deputy director of the Ca Mau labor department Dang Van My told Thanh Nien his agency had set a deadline of August 19 for the registration of the illegal Chinese workers found during the inspection.

"After that point, the project contractors are required to send disqualified workers home and recruit local workers," he said.

According to Decree 47, which took effect on August 1, foreign businesses bidding for Vietnamese government contracts are required to give priority to qualified Vietnamese workers.

Le Thanh Tong, deputy director of the Ca Mau labor department, said a flood of Chinese workers had migrated to the province because employers there ignored local worker recruitment requirements.

The August 4 inspection was the fourth such investigation into foreign worker employment at the project. The number of illegal Chinese workers has risen at each inspection, according to Tong.

According to a 2008 Decree on recruiting foreign workers in Vietnam, all foreigners are required to obtain an official permit to work for more than three months. Manual laborers are not eligible to apply.

On July 5, Nguyen Dai Dong, director of the ministry's Employment Department, told the press that the number of foreigners working in Vietnam had reached more than 74,000.

The foreign workforce in Vietnam comes from more than 60 countries"” 58 percent of them are Asians, followed by Europeans at 28.5 percent.

The Employment Department's deputy director Le Quang Trung said that many provinces like Ninh Binh, Dak Nong and Lam Dong employed thousands of unlicensed foreign laborers, most of whom were unskilled migrants from southern China.

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