Romania, Hungary recruit in Asia to fill labour shortage

Bucharest, Oct 28 (AFP/APP): Sporting yellow safety helmets, about 30 men are busy at work on a construction site south of Bucharest, exchanging a few words in Vietnamese.

Faced with a growing labour shortage which threatens their economies, Romania and Hungary are courting Asian workers, going against Hungarian nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s anti-immigration rhetoric.

“My friend, my friend,” a Romanian worker says to his Vietnamese colleague in English at the Bucharest construction site, trying to break the language barrier.

Very little bridges the gap between the two cultures — from cigarette breaks, where the Vietnamese use a PVC pipe for an improvised puff, while for lunch a Vietnamese chef prepares several dishes for his compatriots to eat in a dining hall.

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District mayor Daniel Baluta says the city was forced to recruit far beyond EU borders.

“We had money to renovate dozens of public housing units, but not the necessary manpower,” he tells AFP.

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