Vietnam workers in Algeria say ill-treated by Chinese contractor, wish to return

Thanh Nien News

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Vietnamese workers sit in their room in Algeria as they have stopped working for Zhejiang Construction Investment Group since Wednesday after the Chinese company deducted their wages without providing any reason. Photo credit: Thanh Binh/Vietnam Plus Vietnamese workers sit in their room in Algeria as they have stopped working for Zhejiang Construction Investment Group since Wednesday after the Chinese company deducted their wages without providing any reason. Photo credit: Thanh Binh/Vietnam Plus

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Nineteen Vietnamese workers working for a Chinese contractor in Algeria have struck work since Wednesday and want to return home, news website Vietnam Plus reported Saturday.
It quoted the workers as saying their employer, Zhejiang Construction Investment Group, deducted US$60, or 10 percent of their monthly salary, in November without providing any reason.
They also said the Chinese company unilaterally changed many terms in the contract.
The workers had been sent by Hanoi-based Thang Long OSC Company in September 2014 to work for Zhejiang at a construction site in Rouiba, 22 km east of the Algerian capital.
The workers said they had been contracted to work 10 hours a day for a monthly salary of $600, but the Chinese firm often fixes a compulsory daily work quota.
They also have to pay $10 a month -- for poor meals, according to them -- though the contract allegedly states that the employer will cover food costs.
One of the workers, Vu Manh Nguyen, told Vietnam Plus that though the employer is contracted to provide health coverage, the workers had to pay themselves in case of workplace accidents or sickness.
In October 56 Vietnamese workers also in Algeria sought the government’s help to return home, saying their Chinese employer starved and beat them up after they refused to work when some terms in the contract were altered.
All of them returned home a month later after Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung stepped in, ordering the foreign and labor ministries to work with Algerian authorities to resolve the issue.
The workers had been sent by Hanoi-based Simco Song Da JSC in July to work for Dongji Yangsu Company at a construction site in Kenchela Province, 450 km from the capital of the North African country.
They said they had signed a contract to work eight hours a day, but after a month the Chinese firm had unilaterally changed that and fixed a daily work quota.
The workers were reportedly starved and assaulted for objecting to the new policy and going on a wildcat strike on September 15.
Though they were happy to be reunited with their families in November, they were worried about debts.
Many had reportedly borrowed to pay more than VND30 million ($1,356) for the trip, mostly to the labour company.

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