Korean Bosses Abscond, Workers in Lurch

The city has seen more heads of foreign invested companies flee after their firms began doing badly, and workers of these firms are struggling after not being paid their dues for months.   

Workers of Quang Sung Vina Garment Company still protest in front of their company demanding their salary (Photo: SGGP)
One week after they began, the workers of Quang Sung Vina Garment Company in Go Vap District are still protesting in front of their company.

Talks with officials who have tried to persuade them to allow the equipment and machines to be seized and recommended that they follow due process to reclaim compensation have failed.

The same night as the talks, the local night-watch staff had to return the facilities back to the company.

This made the workers more angry and anxious. Two sewing machines have been “lost” since, they say. Some workers have then decided to sleep on the ground in front of the company to protect the equipment.

“My Korean boss fled back into his country while owing us two months’ salary. I do not find anyone here responsible for solving that, so I have no choice to protect these assets and collect my money from the selling proceeds. I heard that my company also owes money to other people who are not workers here, so if I do not keep these assets, maybe the other creditor will come and take everything away,” said one worker sleeping on the ground.

The workers also said that after their company closed, some of them had no income and had to borrow or pawn everything they had to meet daily expenses. But the money they got from the pawn shop or lender could only help them to get by for a few days.

Some old workers found new jobs, but have since quit them to “keep their assets safe”.

Workers of the Vina Haeng Woon Industry Ltd. Co. in District 8 have suffered a similar fate. After their Korean boss fled, the workers have had a difficult time.

This reporter met with a female worker whose family is in dire straits after she lost her income from the company. Her husband works as bricklayer, but his earnings cannot help the family with three children make ends meet. She had to borrow money from others to buy rice for her family. Later, her landlord asked her to move out.

The reporter informed the HCMC Federation of Labor about her plight, and the federation has supported the workers of the company with money and rice.

Meanwhile, workers at the Vietnam Garment Co. were determined not to give out their garment products when the truck driver of the company asked for them to be delivered to the company’s partners. They said they would not allow this until the boss paid US$20,000 to pay their salaries.  The manager of the Vietnam Garment Co fled on October 18 and the company has not paid salaries to its employees for a long period.

Other areas in city like Phu Nhuan and Binh Tan districts have seen more violations of the labor law by the Kwang Nam Shoes Ltd. Co. and Anjin Footwear Joint-venture Co.

The difference in these two cases is that the bosses are still in the company and offering salaries in installments to workers.

Addressing a recent meeting with officials from Korean Consulate General, the Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs suggested that the consulate should help by forcing the bosses to come back to Viet Nam, liquidate the companies’ assets and pay workers their dues. The consulate has not responded yet.

Truong Lam Danh, Vice Chairman of HCMC Federation of Labors, has submitted a report about labor disputes in the city to the HCMC Party Committee and HCMC People’s Committee.
The report suggests that district governments seize the assets of the companies, and authorities at the ward level simplify the process for labor unions to sue the companies. The court should quickly intervene on reports from trade unions and impose penalties before the situation becomes serious and the company becomes bankrupt.

In related news, late in the evening on Wednesday, the Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs department in Binh Tan District reported that three of four foreign-owned companies had suddenly closed, leaving more than 2,000 workers unemployed.

Hundreds of workers gathered in front of the Dai Cat Tuong Garment Export Factory in Quang Ngai Province from November 10-12 demanding their salaries. Previously, the directorial board had promised to pay all the salaries, but until late evening on Wednesday, the company still owed salary for September and October to over 500 workers. The company’s board of directors promised to complete payment on Thursday.
 
The representative of the Quang Ngai Industrial Zones Management Board has submitted a petition to various departments, including the Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, Quang Ngai Province Federation of Labor, and the Public Security Department in Quang Ngai Province asking to speed up the process and ensure the rights of the workers.
 
The petition mentions that the board had promised to pay each worker VND1 million (US$60) per month, but during their time at factory, each only received VND150,000 – 200,000 (US$9-12) per month. The board has promised to pay the balance soon, but they broke their promise many times.

Related articles:
More Korean Firms Violate Labor Laws, Harass Workers
Workers Protest after Korean Boss Flees

By Staff Writers – Translated by Truong Son

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