ex. Game, Music, Video, Photography

Brokers lead Vietnamese workers into exile in foreign lands

Many workers seek jobs abroad, but high brokerage and other fees are demanded of them, often illegally.

Ngày đăng: 14 tháng 9, 2021
Cập nhật: 10 tháng 1, 2023
Lượt xem: 311726588
Nguồn: vnexpress

Le Giang Lam

On Taiwan’s Shifen Old Street, famous for its sky lanterns, I came across the sign "Viet Nam Quan," meaning a Vietnamese shop. The saleswoman there was from Ninh Binh, a province in the Red River Delta in northern Vietnam. She said she had come to Taiwan several years ago as a guest worker.

She asked me about how much I had paid for a visa and the visa application procedure.

"It was easy. I got my tourist visa for free through an online application and am allowed to stay for two weeks. The plane ticket and accommodation cost the same as a trip from Hanoi to Saigon," I told her.

"Then you can come, find a job and then overstay, right?" she asked, but clammed up soon after.

I didn't want to tell her that a Taiwanese tourist visa is only easy to get for someone who has got a U.S. or European visa before.

After speaking to about 10 other Vietnamese workers in Taiwan, I understood more about why the conversation at the lantern street had been a bit awkward.

For Vietnamese tourists, going to Taiwan is cheap - VND15-25 million ($647 – 1,079) for a five-day tour. In contrast, guest workers, who need the work to help their families make ends meet, need to cough up $5,200-6,000 to brokers.

This figure, according to the Migrant Forum in Asia, is the highest any Southeast Asian worker has to pay to get the same job in Taiwan. It is two or three times what a Thai or Filipino worker pays to get there.

Vietnamese citizens carry banners during a protest in Taiwan asking for an end to labor brokers on January 7, 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Andy Ip

Hai Phong City native Nghia is one of the thousands of Vietnamese workers in Taiwan. He decided to go abroad to work since he was earning just VND5 million ($215) a month in Vietnam and could not take care of his wife and two children.

So, when he saw an advertisement seeking workers for Taiwan with a salary of NT$22,000 a month ($717) plus opportunities to work overtime, he decided to borrow money and apply for the job.

However, when he arrived in Taiwan, he found there was almost no opportunity to work extra shifts. Furthermore, after deducting taxes and fees, the actual wage was only $400-500. After living costs and paying off debts, he practically had nothing left after the first year.

"Brokers have no idea what they’re talking about," he said.

Nghia found ways to work extra hours on his own. When Vietnamese everywhere were watching the 2018 AFF Cup semi-final between Vietnam and the Philippines last month, he was busy selling roasted sweet potatoes at a night market. By his calculation, it would take him six years to make a meaningful profit.

Nghia is not the only person to "feel tricked." According to the Migrant Forum in Asia, the labor export market is dominated by private companies which compete with each other to find the cheapest labor for employers.

This happens at the expense of the workers, who end up paying higher commissions.

In Vietnam, studies show that the high costs for workers result from mismanagement by authorities and because of corruption.

According to a study published in 2013 by Daniele Bélanger and Hong-zen Wang on Vietnamese emigration to East Asia, many private brokers hire workers by renting the licenses of licensed agencies. Then, they collect the departure costs from the workers themselves, though the recruiters should be responsible for the cost of training, visas and air tickets.

Most workers are disadvantaged by the fact they do not know their rights, the study found. Hence many people are also tricked by fly-by-night operators who collect thousands of dollars as fees, take victims to Taiwan on tourist visas and abandon them there.

Some others manage to find a job through acquaintances in Taiwan, travel there and overstay their visas. This option is less expensive than the legal channel and more lucrative because they do not have to pay tax or health insurance.

Two Vietnamese shop owners in Taipei told me that two months’ pay in a restaurant (illegal job) is equal to three months’ wages at a factory.

Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency has said Vietnamese top the list of illegal immigrants followed by Indonesians. If brokers’ fees are the highest in Vietnam, it is second highest in Indonesia.

Happens at a cost

But staying illegally comes at a cost: The workers must live underground and are not protected by law.

Pham Thao Van, who managed a fund that supported Vietnamese workers experiencing hardship in Taiwan, said more than 200 people have died in the last four years, mostly due to accidents or sickness. The workers do not dare go to a hospital because they are not legal residents.

Although the governments of Vietnam and Taiwan have introduced a number of measures to protect workers, effective implementation remains a challenge.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Labor has stipulated that agents should not charge more than $4,000 for sending a guest worker to Taiwan. Since the beginning of last year, the ministry has also carried out a direct recruitment program that charges only VND13 million ($560). But many brokerages still function with impunity, collecting additional fees without invoices.

Convention 181 of the International Labor Organization bans private recruitment companies from charging workers, but Vietnam has not ratified this.

It is reported that there are around 25,000 illegal Vietnamese workers in Taiwan. Their path to illegal status had most likely begun in Vietnam, where thousands of illegal brokers continue to trick workers with fake promises of a better future.

Twin Bright, one of the companies allegedly involved in the recent case of 152 Vietnamese tourists going missing in Taiwan, is not a licensed tour operator. This case has highlighted the urgency of Vietnam’s labor export market needing better management.

When there is not enough work available in the country and the official labor export route is too expensive, poor workers are faced with tough choices and decide to take risks.

But the truth is that, given a choice, as Nghia says: "Nobody wants to live in exile."

*Le Giang Lam is a journalist based in Hanoi. The opinions expressed are her own.


Tin tức liên quan

Facebook’s country director in Vietnam resigns
news 18/09/2021

Facebook’s country director in Vietnam resigns

news | 324776599

Le Diep Kieu Trang will stop working as director of Facebook’s operations in Vietnam from January 1 next year.

  Life goes on in crumbling Hanoi apartment building
life 28/10/2022

Life goes on in crumbling Hanoi apartment building

trend | 425286580

Mai must move around gingerly in her nearly 70-year-old apartment, not daring to set heavy items on the ground for fear of collapse.

  E-visa tips for foreigners wanting to visit Vietnam
travel 08/08/2022

E-visa tips for foreigners wanting to visit Vietnam

travel | 403656593

With Vietnam reopening its borders after more than two years and lifting most Covid restrictions, here are some tips for foreigners on getting electronic visas for smooth entry.

Cambodia rescues half ton of smuggled tortoises, pythons
news 03/11/2021

Cambodia rescues half ton of smuggled tortoises, pythons

news | 350876592

Cambodian authorities rescued more than half a tonne of live tortoises and pythons stolen by smugglers, a forestry official said Tuesday.

Suspected Chinese missile launch pads put Vietnam on alert
news 25/09/2021

Suspected Chinese missile launch pads put Vietnam on alert

news | 338856586

U.S. reports claim China has constructed military bases on artificial islands in disputed waters.

  1,200 workers lose jobs as Taiwan footwear firm runs out of orders
business 03/11/2022

1,200 workers lose jobs as Taiwan footwear firm runs out of orders

companies | 427466582

A Taiwanese shoemaker in HCMC’s Binh Tan District has laid off 1,185 workers, and blamed it on a drying up of orders.

 Moderna says infant Covid vaccine succeeded in trial
world 26/04/2022

Moderna says infant Covid vaccine succeeded in trial

world | 380606585

U.S. biotech firm Moderna on Wednesday said it was pursuing regulatory approval for its Covid vaccine in children aged six months to six years after the two-shot regimen was found to be safe and produced a strong immune response.

Aviation quandary as airlines wait to enter Vietnamese market
business 25/09/2021

Aviation quandary as airlines wait to enter Vietnamese market

industries | 338736582

Vietnam’s current aviation infrastructure and management capacity cannot handle several carriers waiting to enter the growing market.

  Philippines complains of Chinese fishing ban and
world 02/06/2022

Philippines complains of Chinese fishing ban and 'harassment' at sea

world | 390196582

The Philippines on Tuesday said it had filed a diplomatic protest with China for unilaterally declaring a South China Sea fishing ban, and complained also of harassment and violations of its jurisdiction by Beijing's coast guard.

Pop star cancels US gigs after house theft, says sorry
life 04/11/2022

Pop star cancels US gigs after house theft, says sorry

culture | 428196582

Singer Ho Ngoc Ha apologized to fans for canceling her U.S. gigs due to her illness after her home got looted on Oct. 8.

Chủ đề liên quan

Link Tài Trợ - Sponsored Links

Công Thức Vật Lý
Loading…