Workers sue Vietnamese firms in the US, claim $100 mil

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A group of Vietnamese laborers have filed a lawsuit in a US federal court against two Vietnamese firms, demanding US$100 million in compensation for deceiving and unfairly exploiting them.


The group of about 50 workers sued the International Investment Trade and Service group (Interserco), and the General Automotive Industry Corp (Vinamotors), both headquartered in Hanoi, weeks after a Harris County judge in Texas awarded them an "unprecedented $60 million in civil judgments" for being unfairly exploited by US labor suppliers, local newswire Houston Chronicle reported Friday.


According to the workers, the Vietnamese companies recruited them for a Houston city-based shipyard through a national TV ad campaign. In 2008 they paid up-front processing fees up to $15,000, and were promised wages of $100,000 for a 30-month contract, the news source said.


However, after they signed contracts in February 2009, they were fired eight months later, it said.


Claiming to be victims of an international human trafficking conspiracy, the workers also alleged that the US companies, ILP Agency LLC, of Louisiana, and Coast to Coast Resources Management Services, formerly based in Houston, housed them "like animals," and treated them "like indentured servants," the Houston Chronicle reported.


It quoted one of the workers, Chin Ba Ngo, as saying that he and three others shared a rat- and cockroach-infested apartment with exposed wiring and filthy carpets.


The apartment's rent, $2,000 a month, was deducted from their paychecks along with a monthly transportation fee of $1,200, although they only got rides to work, and a supermarket visit once a week.

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