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Workers return home from Algeria deep in debt

Update: November, 26/2015 - 17:53

The last 18 Vietnamese workers assaulted by Chinese employers in Algeria late in October were repatriated today. — VNA/VNS Photo

ALGIERS (VNS) — The last batch of 18 Vietnamese workers assaulted by Chinese employers in Algeria late in October were repatriated today, happy to be soon reunited with family, but burdened with debts.

They are among 56 workers, who had been hired by Dongji Yangsu Co, Ltd, a Chinese company, to work at a construction site in Kenchela province, 450km from the Algerian capital.

Vu Dang, one of the workers, said his family is in dire straits financially. They had to borrow VND40 million ($1,770) for this trip. After two persons were assaulted by the employers, he still wanted stay on to help his family repay the debt.

Nguyen Van Duc, another worker in the team, said his family borrowed VND20 million ($880) to pay for his employment. Although they were happy to welcome him home, they did not know how they were going to repay the debt.

Dang said the labourers were not in the wrong as the contract said they would be paid on working days. When the conflict began, the employer not only refused to negotiate but also starved and threatened them.

Two persons were beaten up for objecting. 

According to the contracts, the workers were to be paid on working days. But when workers arrived in Algeria, the company wanted to change the terms to payment by work. As the conflict deepened, all the 56 workers were refused food, and two of them were assaulted by their Chinese employers.

To be allowed to return home, each worker was supposed to pay US$1,700 for breaking the contract, which they could not afford to do.

Simco Song Da, the labour contractor, had to pay the compensation in advance along with the flight tickets so that the workers could return home immediately.

Dau Hoang Anh, one of the workers who was assaulted, said he had worked as an overseas labourer in seven countries but had never been treated as badly as on this occasion.

Hoang Anh, however, hoped that Simco Song Da, the labour contractor, would continue to help him and other people with other opportunities to work overseas due to their precarious financial condition. — VNS

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