Runaway Vietnamese spark concern in Taipei, Hanoi

The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff–The large number of runaway Vietnamese migrants working illegally in Taiwan is causing serious concern among both Taiwanese and Vietnamese officials, according to a Central News Agency (CNA) report in Hanoi on April 9.

Citing a report in Vietnam’s “Economic Times” newspaper, the news agency said Taiwan is shaping up to be a preferred destination for Vietnamese trying to overstay their visas to make money, adding more than 15,000 Vietnamese are working illegally in Taiwan. The Vietnamese Ministry of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs statistics show that more than 6,000 Vietnamese migrant workers ran away each year between 2003 and 2009 and a further 11,000 ran away in 2010 and 2011, according to the CNA report.

A total of 34,786 have been deported, while more than 15,000 still remain in the country, the ministry said, adding the 48 Vietnamese agents held responsible for 2,000 of them have had their licenses revoked by the Vietnamese government or have had their contracts terminated by Taiwan authorities.

The runaway ratio is highest in Taiwan compared to other destinations for Vietnamese migrant workers, the ministry said, adding the number increases by 500 each month on average.

The problem is a result of the high fees Vietnamese migrant workers seeking employment in Taiwan have to pay their agents, CNA said, adding for a three-year contract, a Vietnamese laborer has to pay a hefty US$5,000-US$6,000, or even higher.

Vice Minister of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs Nguyen Thanh Hoa, however, said that starting this month, his ministry will strengthen its management of the labor agents, demanding that they charge applicants strictly in accordance with government regulations.

For a three-year employment contract, an applicant will have to pay US$4,500, of which no more than NT$1,500 will be the commission for the agent. Applicants seeking employment in Taiwan as care givers or laborers will pay no more than US$3,800 each, of which no more than US$800 will go to the agent as commission payment.

In addition, applicants will also be required to pay a safety deposit, up to US$1,000 each, in order to deter them from overstaying their visas.

A labor agent interviewed by CNA contended that Vietnamese seeking higher-paying jobs have to pay more, adding fees alone cannot explain the phenomenon, although many of the runaway workers stay on illegally after the expiration of their contracts just to recoup the money they paid their agents. “Tradition is also to blame,” the agent is quoted as saying. “An unwillingness to accept unfair treatment is ingrained in the Vietnamese character,” he explained, adding most runaway cases are “premeditated.”

Also, the large number of Vietnamese married to Taiwan citizens means Vietnamese migrant workers on the run would find it easier than most other nationals to seek help from their fellow compatriots, the agent said.