Last update 5/3/2012 12:23:28 PM (GMT+7)

40 Vietnam sweatshop workers in Russia seek help

VietNamNet Bridge – Nearly 40 Vietnamese workers who are forced to work 12-14 hours per day on a poor diet at a shoe factory in Ekaterinbua, Russia, have appealed to Vietnam’s concerned agencies for help.

Relatives of the workers who have appealed for help. (Photo: Tuoi Tre)
They have also not been paid in the past four months, according to some of them who have informed their situation to Tuoi Tre.

Nguyen Van Thi and Trinh Dinh Quynh, of Dai Cuong Commune, Ha Nam Province, said after they are working for L.E.O. Pard, a shoe factory in Ekaterinbua, the capital city of Xvetlov, which is about 2.000 km northeast of Moscow.

Thi said they are living as slaves and were cheated by Ekaterinbua-based Hoa Viet Company that manages the factory. Based on the name, Hoa Viet is probably a Vietnamese firm.

“We have to work from 8 am to 10 pm every day. Some of us faint at work due to the chilling weather and hunger,” Quynh told Tuoi Tre via phone.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Van Bang, Thi’s brother, said that in October 2011, Hoa Viet company assigned its representative, Nguyen Van Nam, to recruit Vietnamese workers for the shoe factory.

Nam promised they would be paid a salary of US$400-500 per month along with bonus and extra payment for extra work.

To be sent to Russia, each of them had to pay a fee of US$1,500 plus a deposit of VND20 million (US$960) to Hoa Viet company.

Nguyen Thi Doanh, mother of Do Van Thoa, one of the workers, said, “Soon after arriving in Russia, my son told me that many provisions in his work contract have not been carried out.”

Except an advance of 1,000 rubles ($32) paid to each worker, Hoa Viet has not paid them any salary over the last 4 months, according to some families of the workers who have come to Russia on a tourist visa.

“On April 30, we went on strike, asking the boss, a Chinese man, to comply with the signed work contracts or send us back to Vietnam, but he said if we did not continue working, we would be left in hunger,” Thi informed Tuoi Tre.

Many relatives of the workers have asked Nam, who collected their money, to make a written commitment to repay the fees and deposits and send the workers back to Vietnam, but Nam did not do anything.

They relatives told police that Nguyen Van Dung, who signed the work contracts on behalf of Hoa Viet, had collected the fees and deposits from them.

Dung, who is in Russia, claimed, “The workers are living in good condition. I did not receive any complaints from them. Everything is still OK.”

Regarding why the company has not paid to the workers in the past 4 months, Dung said besides the deposit of $1,500, the amount of their three-month salary will be retained as an additional deposit to “create a binding between the employer and employees.”

All the deposit will be returned to workers when their contracts expire, Dung added.

Relatives of the workers have sent a petition to the Vietnamese Embassy in Moscow for intervention.

Do Van Ky, head of the a commune police in Ha Nam province where the two workers Thi and Quynh used to reside, said he has reported the case to the district police.

Nguyen Ngoc Quynh, head of Vietnam’s Overseas Labor Management Department, warned that said these workers might be victims of a swindling gang.

“The department will ask the Foreign Ministry’s Consular Department and the Embassy to take action,” Quynh promised.

On April 17, six other Vietnamese workers, of Bac Giang Province, who had also worked for the factory, returned to Vietnam and reported their same situation to local police, which are investigating the case. 

VietNamNet/Tuoi Tre