Eighteen people are demanding that a PetroVietnam member company pay them more than VND180 million (US$9,500) for breaking agreements in their labor export contracts.
Gathering in front of the Petromanning Company headquarters in Hanoi on Thursday, the demonstrators said they were sent to Romania last November to work as laborers on a construction project under a five-year contract with Petromanning.
According to the contract, they were to be paid 1.85 euros an hour for eight hours of work a day, said Lieu Van Ly from Thach That District.
They would also get 15 euros per day for days when work was suspended by weather conditions, he added.
However, they were only assigned to do some minor repairs at apartment buildings and worked for only 15 days while abroad for three months, according to Ly.
Worse still, they didn't get paid, including the extra payment promised for no-work days, he said, adding that on March 3, they were asked to move out of their apartments, because they didn't have money to pay rent.
Following the workers protests, Petromanning's Romanian partner sent them to work as garbage collectors, they said.
They then turned to Vietnamese Embassy in Romania for help and demanded that Petromanning send them home.
The labors now want the company to return the VND99.07 million they each paid in labor export fees, plus their unpaid salaries.
Ly said under the contract the workers had to pay Petromanning another 1,500 euros agreed to be deducted from their salaries over ten months.
Petromanning director general Bui Hai Hoa told Thanh Nien the firm would "support" the laborers with VND43.2 million each. But he said the workers had to incur air fares costing some VND21 million, meaning that they would get VND22.2 million back.
According to Hoa, the workers were advised to take another job to enhance their skills which were unsatisfactory for the foreign partner and contractor. He also said their working attitude was poor.
But the laborers didn't agree and sent their appeal to the Overseas Labor Administration at the Ministry of Labors, War Invalids and Social Affairs.
Tong Hoai Nam, head of Labors Market under the administration, said they had asked Petromanning to send them a report on the situation.
Petromanning had been licensed to send workers to Romania for construction jobs, but it was not allowed to change their work, Nam said.