Labor exports: Not all rose-tinted glasses

Vietnamese working class without specialized skills looking to make quick money abroad will sometimes pay smugglers handsomely to get them to Europe.

Labor exports: Not all rose-tinted glasses

Kien put his house up for sale to pay back his debts while awaiting trial

Waiting for them at the destinations, however, are endless days of torment, relentless labor and the fear of getting deported.

A cursed journey

SGGP’s reporters got a chance to interview Nguyen Trung Kien from Quang Binh who had made 24 attempts to sneak into the UK by hiding underneath cargo trucks. He ended up getting arrested and send back to Vietnam 23 times.

Kien first attempt was in 2007, departing from the Czech Republic after it underwent an economic crisis. He and 8 other people were packed like sardines on a container truck without the driver’s knowledge, after each spending US$5,000 for a “guide” who pointed out trucks for them to hide on. The group was found by UK police and got send back to their previous transit which was France.

He finally arrived in the UK through the same method in 2008, with his mind set on growing cannabis, as it was a well-paid job that could help him settle all the debts at home. Not long after, Kien got arrested and deported in 2011, at which point his wife, who had previously also found her way to the UK, left him.

His story did not end there, as Kien became desperate again after he got into more debts and decided to make a run for Australia.

Kien and 16 of his countrymen each put in VND150 million (about US$6,500) to buy a fisherman boat and set sail to Australia. They reached the coasts around August 2018, sank the boat and attempted to approach land on basket-shaped boats. They wound up surrounded by crocodiles, and had no choice but to surrender themselves to Australian coast guards.

“We believed the authorities were going to give us shelter, but someone in the crew accused us of being terrorists and we got deported in 2019”, Kien said.

Afterwards, Kien and some of his crew members were prosecuted for organizing illegal immigrant.

Constant lock-up abroad

Nguyen Van L. in Yen Thanh District, Nghe An also has a fair share of stories on his illegal expedition to Europe.

In 2004, he paid US$5,200 of borrowed money to a ring of smugglers in exchange for a Germany-bound trip. After several cycles where he was arrested, released as a homeless refugee and contacted again by the ring, L. made it to Germany where he worked for a while before setting off again, this time to the UK.

The new journey which cost L. US$5,000 played out pretty much the same, with lots of arrests, releases and hiding on cargo trucks through several European countries. But this time L. did not get to work a day at his final destination, as he got deported by UK police just one month after arriving.

After returning to Vietnam, L. settled down and had two children, and is running a local animal feed store. “If you can afford a stable job, don’t risk your life migrating like I did”, he shrugged.

Nghe An recently reported about 13,000 people signing up for labor export services without signing work contracts, and 2,358 whose contracts expired but refused to leave Korea. Nghe An People’s Committee is making efforts to make labor markets with high wages and low expenses more accessible to working people, said Vice Chairman Le Ngoc Hoa. SGGP


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