|Workers in the northern province of Bac Kan register to work abroad. Female workers face more difficulties abroad than their male counterparts, according to labour experts. — VNA/VNS Photo Huu Viet
HCM CITY (VNS)— Ways to inject a rights-based approach and a gender dimension into existing labour export practices and analysis were discussed at a two-day workshop in HCM City that closed yesterday.
Of more than 500,000 Vietnamese guest workers in more than 40 countries and territories, female workers account for 30 per cent, said Dr. Nguyen Thi Lan Huong with the Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.
The rate of female workers sent abroad increased to 36.2 per cent in 2011 from 34.9 per cent in 2005. Between 2005 and 2011, Viet Nam sent an average of 27,000 female guest workers every year.
Lan said female workers were likely to face greater difficulties abroad than their male counterparts.
Many female guest workers accept jobs involving long working hours with low pay, as well as jobs like domestic workers where they have little or no legal protection. They are also at higher risk of sexual abuse and harassment.
Human trafficking through labour migration is also a matter of concern, Lan said.
"Despite the economic benefits, labour migration causes great difficulties for migrants," said Dr. Ngo Thi Phuong Lan, deputy rector of the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities.
"Lack of information about destinations, low skills and foreign language incompetence make labour migrants vulnerable to labour exploitation and abuse," she said.
She blamed inadequate labour migration policies for the many obstacles and difficulties that migrants face, especially female migrants.
Nearly 80,000 Vietnamese guest workers are sent to work abroad each year, said Dang Nguyen Anh with the Institute of Sociology under the Viet Nam Academy of Social Sciences.
He said they are involved in 30 different kinds of jobs, ranging from low to highly skilled ones, adding that unskilled workers account for a majority of the Viet Nam's labour exports.
Anh also said that a large number of irregular or undocumented migrants who work abroad through unofficial channels or individual arrangements cannot speak local languages and are not protected by laws in the foreign countries.
In case of emergencies, they have no access to supportive social networks.
Close management and tightened supervision by the Government is necessary to ensure workers are not cheated or unfairly exploited by firms that send them abroad, Anh said.
The Vietnamese Government should develop bilateral and multilateral agreements with the governments of destination countries to protect Vietnamese citizen's rights and safety, he added.
Several local case studies on labour migration in sending countries, policies and actions in receiving countries, international conventions, migration governance and labour export discourses in Viet Nam were discussed at the workshop.
The workshop was attended by policy makers, decision-making agencies, research institutes, universities, socio-political organisations and non-governmental organisations at home and abroad.
Jointly organised by the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities and Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, the workshop brought together 70 participants from eight research institutes and international participants from many countries – Australia, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and South Korea. —VNS