Vietnamese workers find new jobs after S Korean boss disappears owing $1.37 mln

By Minh Minh   March 11, 2018 | 11:56 pm PT
Vietnamese workers find new jobs after S Korean boss disappears owing $1.37 mln
Police and officials in Dong Nai Province meet with workers from a company whose director fled Vietnam in February. Photo by VnExpress/Phuoc Tuan
A Hong Kong firm has offered to pay 600 of them $220 per month, but many are still clinging on to government support.

More than 600 garment workers in Dong Nai Province in southern Vietnam have found new jobs more than a month after their employers fled owing them hundreds of thousands of dollars, but many of their colleagues are still struggling.

The workers from Texwell Vina Company are expected to start working at a Hong Kong company in the province next month. PouSung Vietnam, their new employer, has promised salaries of more than VND5 million ($220) a month, media reports said.

“It’s a good income,” said one of the workers, as cited by Lao Dong. Vietnam's minimum wage currently stands at up to $175 per month.

More than 1,900 workers were left jobless after their South Korean director and 11 managers left Vietnam on February 8, owing them VND31 billion ($1.37 million) in salaries and social insurance contributions.

The crisis grabbed headlines after the workers gathered outside the factory for days to demand their pay. The protest prompted authorities to fork out VND7 billion ($308,000) to help the workers celebrate the Lunar New Year in mid-February.

After the holiday, the workers returned, still to find no bosses. The South Korean Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City said the parent company in South Korea has also been shut down.

Dong Nai Province spent another VND1.4 billion this month to cover some of the workers’ social insurance contributions to secure benefits for old and pregnant workers.

This is the latest in a series of cases where employers have absconded from Vietnam. In January, more than 600 workers at a garment firm in the neighboring Saigon staged a strike for more than a week to demand their wages after their South Korean employer disappeared.

Vietnam’s economy grew by 6.8 percent in 2017, the highest rate in a decade, but not all its workers are having a good time.

The country raised its minimum wage by around 7.3 percent last year to VND3.75 million per month, the lowest nominal jump on record. The government has approved another increase of 6.5 percent from mid-2018.

Last year, a third of the 2,600 workers surveyed by Vietnam’s Institute of Workers and Trade Unions said their income was barely enough to live on, while 12 percent said their wages simply did not cover basic expenses, forcing them to work extra hours.

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