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19 Feb 2018

USA: "Many" Chinese construction workers on Saipan island were reportedly injured or died building Imperial Pacific casinos; company denies allegations

"...At a…Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd...construction site [on the American island of Saipan], it was building a gargantuan casino with a crew of hundreds of Chinese, scores of them working illegally on tourist visas. So many laborers were getting hurt that [Doctor] Rohringer’s colleagues began keeping an unofficial spreadsheet, separate from standard hospital record...

Imperial Pacific has said that it had no knowledge of safety violations or workers being employed illegally and that both were the responsibility of its contractors. But these claims don’t withstand much scrutiny. The contractors’ office was rented by Imperial Pacific and, according to a former employee who worked there, shared with its staff. Additionally, a safety expert who worked on the construction site told me that Imperial Pacific was deeply involved with selecting and supervising contractors."...

On February 22 2019, a group of individuals and organisations "outraged by the severe labor rights violations that transpired at the Imperial Pacific construction site in Saipan, CNMI", wrote to the Senate Energy Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee ahead of their respective hearings to examine the state of U.S. territories and to amend the Northern Mariana Islands Residents Relief Act.

The group calls on the Committees to "inquire what steps are being taken to ensure that past workers abuses are remedied and future violations...prevented" when Governor Torres of the CNMI appears before them. According to the letter, local CNMI legislators "made the common-sense proposal to establish an independent monitoring body to ensure that the casino and its contractors follow the law, provide safe working conditions, and legally compensate workers. However, the CNMI Governor has not publicly expressed support for this proposal." 

In March 2019, seven Chinese construction workers filed a case at the Federal Court in Saipan to sue Imperial Pacific International and its contractors, MCC International Saipan Ltd and Gold Mantis Construction Decoration, over forced labour and human trafficking claims on a casino construction project. We have another story on the lawsuit: