Hundreds of Vietnamese have been exploited by illegal employment agencies and employers in Hong Kong after entering the city illegally.

Some Vietnamese who want to work in Hong Kong or China have paid around US$580 to a human trafficking syndicate, which arranges to places where they can enter and work illegally. But many have been exploited, according to an investigative report in Sing Tao Daily.

The journalist, who pretended to be a Hong Kong restaurant owner, went to Haiphong in Vietnam and said he wanted to hire workers for “his restaurant”.

He was introduced to a “middle-woman” named “G” who introduced five Vietnamese women aged from 28 to 35 prepared to pay 3,600 Chinese yuan (US$578) each to travel for a job. G would pocket 600 yuan as an agent’s fee while the rest was for the person who guided the workers to Hong Kong or China.

G told the reporter she helped many friends get work in Foshan in Guangdong province in southern China. Those illegal workers usually worked for six months to one year then sneaked back to Vietnam.

When the reporter returned to Hong Kong, he was contacted by a Vietnamese woman living in the city saying she could introduce compatriots to work in restaurants, or a laundry or recycling factory.

The woman said employers only need to pay half the normal Hong Kong wage for illegal workers, once they paid HK$2,000 (US$255) for each worker she sent to them.

The woman said Vietnamese were all hardworking. “They can work 14 hours a day and they are fine if there is only two days off in a month,” adding that she would get commissions from the workers too.

It was understood that the Vietnamese illegals would have to sleep on the streets under the flyover in Kowloon’s Sham Shui Po, but to secure a place they needed to pay around HK$1,000 to a middleman.

The Immigration Department says 2,882 illegal workers were arrested in the first half of this year.

That number included 1,193 illegal Vietnamese who had been sent back by Immigration officials. This represented a 17% increase compared to the corresponding period in 2017, according to a government release.

On Tuesday, the department deported 83 Vietnamese illegal immigrants on a charter flight back to Vietnam.

ReadHong Kong deports 83 Vietnamese on charter flight

ReadTwo Vietnamese women jailed for illegally working in HK