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Overseas labour issues in the spotlight

Update: April, 06/2013 - 09:06
Students study at the Viet Nam-South Korea Industrial Technology Vocational College. The country's struggle to send workers abroad is being exacerbated by migrant workers extending their stays in South Korea. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Van Nhat

HA NOI (VNS) — Vietnamese workers staying in South Korea beyond the expiry of their labour contracts is a major cause towards Viet Nam's failure to achieve its goal of sending 90,000 workers overseas.

The official Government website yesterday held a Q&A session where the issue of overseas labour was put into the spotlight.

At this meeting, Pham Thi Hai Chuyen, Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA), confirmed the issue.

Last year, Viet Nam managed to send 80,000 workers abroad, reaching only 89 per cent of the initial target.

"In 2012, Viet Nam managed to send only 9,000 workers to South Korea, a decrease of 6,000 against 2011's figure, due to this problem which affected the overall target of sending workers overseas," Chuyen said.

South Korea has suspended its Memorandum of Understanding with Viet Nam which has resulted in about 12,000 workers, who had studied the Korean language and prepared to go to South Korea this year, were forced to stay and wait for a future possibility to go to the Northeast Asian country.

"The problem can only be solved if workers and their families try to be co-operative," Chuyen said in affirmative voice, as she asked workers to strictly follow their contract agreements so as not to negatively affect fellow Vietnamese workers who wish to follow a similar path.

She added that workers who had performed well in South Korea would be able to return to the country six months after the expiry of their contracts.

This year, for example, 1,500 Vietnamese workers have returned to South Korea to work after strictly following their labour agreements.

The fact that there was no significant increase in demand from other major markets including Japan and Taiwan was also blamed for the failure of reaching the target.

Chuyen said Viet Nam would be able to achieve its target of sending more workers abroad this year if the problem of workers overstaying in South Korea was solved- in addition to the fact that the growing markets of Germany and Japan are welcoming nurses from Viet Nam.

Regarding the problem of workers being deceived into going to work illegally overseas and being overcharged for fees, Le Van Thanh, Deputy Director of the Department of Overseas Labour explained that workers had to pay fees to cover the costs of air tickets, language lessons and insurance.

He said, however, that there had been clear regulations about the limit of fees which enterprises cannot exceed, lest they be fined or have their operation licences revoked.

"Those who discover any violations should contact the Department of Overseas Labour so that we can conduct inspections," Thanh said.

In response to questions about how to get loans to go abroad as guest workers, Chuyen said residents of the 62 poor districts stipulated by the Government would be able to borrow funds from banks at a preferential interest rate while normal workers could borrow from commercial banks as usual.

Regarding the issue of foreign investment in vocational training, Chuyen said there were currently 19 foreign-invested vocational schools and six other schools partly funded by foreign investors.

She admitted to the limited amount of foreign investment in vocational training in Viet Nam compared to other fields.

MoLISA, therefore, would continue to review outdated and irrelevant policies to propose changes to the Government with a view to creating favourable conditions for more foreign investment in vocational training.

Chuyen also reported that social insurance debts would fall under the responsibility of non-State and foreign-invested enterprises, committing 40 and 14 per cent respectively.

Chuyen said many companies collected money from their employees in the name of social insurance but failed to pay money to the social insurance agency, leading to the fact that workers could not enjoy the benefits of social insurance.

She said these companies would face strict punishment, as MoLISA had asked the Ministry of Justice to consider legal punishment towards the violating companies.

Chuyen said the authorities' measures to cope with the problem, including increased inspections on social insurance debts among companies and MoLISA's request for relevant local departments' active involvement, had helped reduce nearly 14 per cent of the overall social insurance debt last year. — VNS


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