BANGKOK, Thailand — Vietnamese workers sent to East Bloc countries are underpaid and treated unfairly, an influential Hanoi newspaper has charged.
Quan Doi Nhan Dan, the Vietnamese army daily, said Hanoi has called for talks "to rectify and overcome the irrationalities found in (labor) treaties already signed." But "patching up" difficulties is not enough, the paper said, demanding more fundamental changes.
In a Nov. 28 article, which became available in Bangkok late last week, the army journal called for new agreements "not to send our laborers to work in dangerous places such as contaminated areas, deep underground mines or areas where the harsh conditions exceed the physical endurance of Vietnamese, and not to assign our laborers to work with convicts under a system of forced labor."
Noting the difference in pay between Vietnamese in the Soviet Bloc and expatriate workers in non-Communist countries, the article said that Hanoi's overseas workers average about $170 a month, while Pakistanis, Indians and South Koreans working in the Middle East receive 10 times as much or more.
More than 170,000 Vietnamese have been sent to the East Bloc, including 80,000 to the Soviet Union, over the past eight years in compensation for economic aid to Hanoi, the paper said. Moscow bolsters Vietnam with an estimated $2 billion a year in economic assistance. Vietnamese workers earn about $86.4 million a year abroad.
"The countries receiving laborers must definitely solve the problems" concerning wages, bonuses, health care and living conditions, the article insisted.
The article's tone was sharper than that of previous Vietnamese press accounts on the treatment of Hanoi's overseas workers. But it noted, "We should not allow small-mindedness in business to taint fraternal friendship."