March 16, 2009: The Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA) has dug a little deeper into the workings of the aid the Vietnamese government ostensibly makes available to repatriated guest workers. It turns out that all that glitters is not gold – and may not even be within reach.
In order to receive assistance from the government aid fund, businesses must take the initiative of compiling a list of workers who need assistance and allow the government to inspect them. So the aid is premised on the idea that companies have the motivation and capacity to seek the money and pass the inspection.
Even assuming that these factors are present, the extent of the aid to each worker is only some US$295.00, depending on the exchange rate at the moment. Clearly, that amount is not anywhere near to some of the sums workers have had to put down to be “stake their claim” to a job overseas through a labor export firm. And regardless, the aid fund only churns a pool of money the workers themselves have been forced to provide. For a long time now, workers going abroad have been required to deposit roughly US$6.00 into this fund.
Theoretically, another form of assistance comes from the labor export firms themselves. According to 2006 laws structuring the work of labor export businesses, all are responsible for compensating workers who are laid off before completion of their contract.
According to labor laws on the books, the contracting businesses to which the workers are supplied are responsible for demanding that labor export firms refund a portion of the fees already paid by workers. Laborers who have worked less than half the amount of time stipulated by their contract are entitled to a 50 percent refund.
And workers who have labored more than half the time in the contract? They’re entitled to nothing.
CAMSA is continuing to investigate the extent to which these measures, which don’t sound particularly good even on paper, are effective in delivering Vietnamese guest workers from financial disaster when they are laid off by foreign employers before their contract is up.
For more information on the repatriated workers’ troubles, see the preceding post or click here.