Twenty-eight Vietnamese laborers have been detained in Saudi Arabia for nearly one year without the knowledge of labor companies from their home country, an official told Thanh Nien Sunday.
According to Dao Cong Hai, deputy head of Department of Overseas Labor at the labor ministry, the laborers were arrested for allegedly stealing construction materials.
So far three of them have received jail terms, while others are still pending trial, the department said.
A report published on October 8 on Thanh Tra the news website of the Government Inspectorate -- said the laborers were found stealing ten tons of copper on two trucks. It quoted local police as saying that due to time-consuming inspections, the case didn't reach court until September 19.
So far the department has asked the companies who sent the laborers there, including Vietnam Manpower Supply and Commercial Company, to handle the case, according to the report.
"The case showed that the companies are very irresponsible. They should have known when the laborers were arrested and informed their families as well as related agencies," Hai said.
In fact, Trieu Thi Thin, wife of one of the laborers, Trieu Du Long from the northern province of Bac Ninh, told Thanh Nien that she lost contact with her husband after talking to him on the phone just a few times after he arrived.
She didn't know about his arrest until last month and she then managed to talk with him on the phone, according to Thin, adding that Long told her he was arrested in October last year.
"I contacted the company that sent him overseas (Ocean Transport Corporation) for more information, but they said they didn't know anything clearly," Thin said.
Hai quoted a letter from the Vietnam embassy in Saudi Arabia to his department as saying that the laborers claimed they began stealing because their salary was too low, around VND4-5 million (US$192-240) per month, while they had to pay high fees to labor companies and interest rates for bank loans they made before traveling.
The embassy also said that during their custody, the laborers were treated humanly with proper meals and monthly expenses of $40.