Most of the boards said they had a difficult time identifying which labourers were skilled or manual workers, which made it difficult to provide them with the necessary licences. Members of the boards also struggled to properly monitor the foreign labourer's housing.

"Sixty foreign invested companies working at Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province's IPs in textile, footwear and leather enterprises employ 371 workers that have no university degree or vocational certificate," said Le Minh Chau, director of Ba Ria-Vung Tau IPs Authority's management board.

Vietnamese labour laws allow foreign and international companies in the country's IP sector to recruit only skilled workers or experts from other countries.

"We had to grant licences to unskilled labourers working at several IPs since their companies verified that they had at least five years of experience and are sufficient at their jobs," Chau said.

"They all, in reality, do jobs that do not require many skills," he said.

The province's 14 IPs has 585 foreign labourers from countries and territories including mainland China, Taiwan, SouthKorea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, Australia, France and the US.

Chau said 214 employers working in the electricity, mechanics, steel and construction materials sector had university degrees or had received some form of a higher education.

Tay Ninh Province IP Authorities said skilled foreign labourers had contributed to the operations of their respective companies and at the local IPs, however, businesses had not strictly obeyed regulations concerning recruiting. The law requires businesses to register workers with relevant authorities before they recruit them. Some businesses continue to recruit labourers first and then apply for licences.

In Tay Ninh Province, there are 738 guest labourers from China, Taiwan, South Korea and the Philippines. Several businesses employ unskilled labourers as well.

In Tien Giang, there are 187 guest labourers working at local IPs and 133 of the workers have labour licences.

The remaining 54 foreigners working in Tien Giang were brought to the province by a contractor to work at a construction site. Provincial IP authorities claimed that these foreigners were not properly registered because they entered the country with a tourism visa and only work seasonally.

IP authorities in Lam Dong Province, which has 900 foreigners working there, said that many businesses in the province delayed filing for an extension with labour licenses for their employers.

A majority of the businesses ignored regulations and laws that protect the rights and responsibilities of foreign labourers in the province.

Vo Thanh Lap, director of Dong Nai Industrial Parks Authority (DIZA) 's management board, said many businesses continue to mismanage guest labourers and would rather pay a small fine.

Lap hailed amendments made to two laws concerning foreign labourers licensing. Governmental Decree 34/2008 and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs' Circular 08/2008 were passed in order to provide legal clarification concerning foreigner labourers in Viet Nam.

DIZA also reported that there had been conflicts between local and foreign experts due to cultural and linguistic differences.

Lap said it was necessary to inspect the working conditions at companies using foreign labour in order to protect the workers. In 2007 and 2009, DIZA said that Chinese labourers reported that their companies had not paid them properly and had violated the law concerning working hours.

At the 29 IPs in DIZA, there are 4,935 foreign labourers currently working. A majority of the foreigners live in the offices of their companies and businesses. Highly skilled workers tend to live in rented apartments and hotels.

Lap said local authorities should pay more attention to developing land in order to build houses for guest labourers outside the IPs.

Regulations do not allow any housing to be built on the IPs' territories, but many companies and businesses construct temporary housing for guest labourers to live in in order to cut back on expenses.

Chau of Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province said many Chinese and Taiwanese companies had reportedly built houses in IPs and claimed that the units were only used by labourers during the day. However, these houses were often used as permanent accommodations for foreigners working at the IPs.

Tien Giang authorities said a similar situation happened at their IPs as well. Tien Giang and Tay Ninh authorities admitted that infrastructure outside of IPs was still insufficient.

Authority from Tien Giang said regulations concerning the housing of foreign labourers needed to be ironed out. — VNS