Vietnamese workers in Russia accuse employers of abuse

TN News

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Vietnamese sweatshop workers deported by Russian authorities arrived in Hanoi Sunday and Monday complaining of being abused and defrauded by their employers.

Many of 60 workers went straight to lodge complains with the Criminal Police at the Ministry of Public Security after arriving at Noi Bai airport in the capital.

The police have recorded their complaints, including regular beatings, pay many times lower than they were promised, and poor working conditions, hygiene and nutrition.

It is not clear if the workers had been employed by Vietnamese or Russian businesses.

Most of the workers had no money left, and several government agencies in the area helped them pay bus fares home from the airport. Some of them returned home to Hanoi, some from homes in nearby Nam Dinh and Thai Binh Provinces, but also as far as Da Nang in the central region and Ho Chi Minh City.

They all paid private intermediaries, many of whom were not licensed for labor export services, to get the jobs. Some said they had suffered ill treatment for over a year, while some had only worked for several weeks.

Nguyen Duy Than Nhan, a 32-year-old worker from Ho Chi Minh City, told news website Dan Tri she paid an intermediary US$600 and was promised a monthly salary of $700 for a two-year garment contract.

"But the reality was a miserable life beyond imagination. I worked day and night, having cheap meals and was not allowed to step out of the factory.

"It was like living in jail."

Nhan was deported by Russian immigration authorities after three weeks, which she said was "lucky."

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A source from the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs said the situation is "complicated" and that it is working with the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Public Security to find out exactly what happened and who was involved.

Three of the workers who came home were working with Vietnamese-run textile factory Vinastar in Moscow, which Russian immigration authorities are investigating for use of illegal migrants and labor abuse after a BBC discovery on the issue, according to the newspaper report on August 10.

It cited the workers as saying they were forced to work 18 hours a day, seven days a week. They all showed red rashes on their bodies due to poor hygienic conditions. They were locked  in rooms with no electricity or windows, forced to stay indoors all winter and were only let walk around in the backyard of the premises in the summer to air their clothes. They said they were poorly fed, and beaten up regularly.

The report also said that the Vietnamese embassy in Russia had denied any malpractice accusations, and instead told the workers to abide by their contracts.

It said there are dozens of sweatshops run by Vietnamese people in Russia that employ thousands of Vietnamese workers.

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