The public event, co-organized by the ILO, the Ho Chi Minh Central Youth Union and MTV EXIT (End human trafficking and exploitation) Foundation with the support of the Australian Aid and US Agency of International Development (USAID), was attended by more than 200 local people.
Son Ha District, a poor area of central Quang Ngai Province, is home for nearly 71,000 inhabitants and 85 per cent of the population belong to H’re ethnic group.
Between 2009 and 2013, the district sent nearly 400 workers abroad with Malaysia as the major destination country. The migrant workers sent back home remittances totaling VND17.7 billion (US$843,000) during the period.
“It’s a good source of poverty reduction in the area,” Lu Dinh Ngo, deputy head of the Son Ha Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said. He added that most of those who went to Malaysia earned VND4-7 million ($190-330) a month – an “amount they could hardly get at home”.
One fourth of the migrant workers returned home before their initial contracts ended.
Dinh Van Tri, a former migrant worker who went to Malaysia, said health issues and language barrier made it “very difficult” for his first few months in the destination country.
According to the baseline report conducted in 2011 by the ILO GMS TRIANGLE project to promote the rights of migrant workers, none of the potential migrants in Thanh Hoa and Quang Ngai provinces, including Son Ha District knew about the detailed costs for migration and the Government’s regulations on service charges, brokerage fees and refunds.
Half of the 300 respondents did not know through which channels to migrate and 95 per cent were not aware of their right to keep their passports when abroad. Two in every three people who planned to seek job abroad knew nothing about the role of trade unions in protecting the rights of workers.
“Lack of awareness puts migrant workers at risks,” said ILO Viet Nam Director Gyorgy Sziraczki. “The contribution of women and men migrants to the growth and development in both their host and home countries is enormous but sadly many of them have been subjected to exploitation, harassment and even human trafficking.”
The exchange programme in Son Ha District was part of a series of public events promoting access to reliable information on costs and legal recruitment channels for safe overseas employment, enhancing self-protection skills and understanding about safe migration and support services available to prevent migrant workers from falling victim to labour exploitation and human trafficking.
Similar events have been held in different locations in the northern provinces of Phu Tho and Bac Ninh last December and will continue in northern Thanh Hoa Province after Tet (Lunar New Year).