“Ensuring the interests of both Vietnam and the receiving countries while maintaining the rights of and dignity of workers has always been a priority of the Vietnam government,” said Hai.
Protecting the rights of migrant workers requires bilateral, regional and international cooperation among countries.
At the global level, the United Nations (UN) International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICRMW) 1990, and several conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on protecting the rights of migrant workers have set out a legal framework for the protection of migrant workers.
The Asian, North American and European regions also have implemented a number of initiatives and programs aimed at promoting labour management responsibilities of both sending and receiving countries in protecting the rights of guest workers.
Currently, there are an estimated 500,000 Vietnamese guest workers working in 30 different industries in 40 countries around the globe.
Hai said workers often earn higher incomes abroad, which has helped them improve living conditions for their families and some of the more entrepreneurial have even started businesses of their own after returning home.
Labour exports are also an effective way to transfer technologies and help improve the overall qualifications of the nation’s workforces and strengthen cooperation between Vietnam and other countries.
However, despite all the positive aspects of the guest worker programs, it is plagued by bad behaviour of the workers themselves committing crimes when overseas, fighting as well as overstaying their Visa.
Recently, all 4,000 guest workers who were sent to work in the UAE had to return home ahead of schedule because they gathered to drink and cause social disorders. This was not the first time Vietnamese workers faced such a situation.
In 2009, about 600 body guards working in the UAE were forced to return home early because they drank too much and caused too many social disturbances said Hai.
Qatar was once a priority market for guest workers in the Middle East. However, in 2008 Qatar stopped recruiting guest workers following numerous reports of thievery, illegal wine making and innumerable incidences of disorderly conduct.
At present, the country has revoked the decision to ban workers but it is now more selective in the workers for which it grants guest worker visas.
Hai said workers in the RoK have repeatedly failed to adhere to the rules and voluntary return to the homeland when their permits expired and there are now roughly 26,340 illegally in the country.
As a result the RoK has implemented a program abating penalties and/or incarceration for those who illegally overstayed their visa if they voluntary leave the country.
The illegitimate workers who do so will be permitted to return after two years.
Otherwise guest workers apprehended by law enforcement will be fined up to US$9,000, deported and banned from re-entry into the RoK for a period of ten years.
In addition, the RoK government has stated that if the ratio of Vietnamese illegal workers doesn’t fall below 28% by the end of the year, the guest worker program will be terminated.
Given that the ratio of illegal Vietnamese workers in the RoK in the first five months, this year was 44.4%, 40.38% last year, and 44.15% in 2013— it appears most likely the program will terminate at the end of the year.
The increasing number of embarrassing incidents resulting from the bad behaviour has helped to tarnish the worldwide reputation of Vietnamese guest workers the former deputy Head of the OLMD said.
Hai suggests the government needs to impose stricter measures to encourage the workers from engaging in inappropriate or illegal behaviour while on work assignments abroad.