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Unpaid sanitation workers take out loans, collect scrap to survive in Hanoi

Unpaid sanitation workers take out loans, collect scrap to survive in Hanoi

Friday, June 11, 2021, 17:27 GMT+7
Unpaid sanitation workers take out loans, collect scrap to survive in Hanoi
Nguyen Thi Dao collects garbage on Ho Tung Mau Street in Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi. Photo: Quang The / Tuoi Tre

Hundreds of public sanitation workers in Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi have had to borrow money and collect scrap for trading to make ends meet since their employer has not paid their wages for ten months.

Minh Quan High Technology Development and Investment, which is responsible for environmental sanitation in the district, has yet to pay staff salaries since July 2020, according to Nguyen Van Doan, a 60-year-old man hailing from northern Nam Dinh Province, who has worked as a trash collector in Hanoi since 2010.

According to Nguyen Thi Phuong, a team leader in Cau Dien and Tay Mo Wards, the monthly wage for a trash collector, which is classified as a hazardous job, is about VND5 million (US$218).

Since receiving no payments from Minh Quan, the workers have no other choice but to take out loans at high interest rates and pick up garbage at apartment buildings to sell for a living.

However, they still have to fulfill their duties as described in the labor contracts signed with the company.

“We can earn some VND100,000 [$4.36] a day [from collecting and selling scrap paper] if lucky enough,” Doan said.

“We are really frustrated but don’t know what to do.

"We already sent petitions to both the local authorities and the company management."

Trash collectors collect garbage in Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi. Photo: Quang The / Tuoi Tre

Trash collectors collect garbage in Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi. Photo: Quang The / Tuoi Tre

According to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper’s investigation, Minh Quan’s trash processing service contract in Nam Tu Liem District expired at the end of December 2020.

According to Tran Quang Tuan, director of Nam Hanoi Group Joint Stock Company, which acquired a majority stake in Minh Quan High Technology Development and Investment in January, Minh Quan’s hefty debt of VND38 billion ($1.6 million) has prevented the firm from securing wage payments for workers.

“Minh Quan Company has not fulfilled its responsibility and not finished the handover to us,” Tuan said.

“In addition, Minh Quan has yet to pay its taxes."

The director also said that Nam Hanoi Group will pay wages for all staff in July when Minh Quan pays off its debts.

Police and the Labor Union in Nam Tu Liem District have also worked with Tuan’s company regarding the issue, according to him.

In 2017, Minh Quan won six out of 25 public utility service packages for environmental sanitation for the 2017-20 period in six districts of Hanoi, including Ha Dong, Nam Tu Liem, Thach That, My Duc, Me Linh, and Thanh Tri, according to Khoa Hoc & Doi Song (Science & Life) newspaper. 

The packages had the total value of up to VND1.15 trillion ($50.12 million).

However, local people constantly complained about its poor service, leaving numerous piles of uncollected garbage on the streets and causing environmental pollution.

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