USA: Construction workers sue Imperial Pacific and its contractors over claims for forced labour and human trafficking in Saipan

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Article
6 November 2019

China should take action against human rights abuses for Belt and Road projects, analyst says

Author: William Nee, Amnesty International

“Time for China to take action against human rights abuses on its Belt and Road projects”, 3 November 2019

… In 2017, shortly after the facility opened on the island, part of a US commonwealth in the Pacific, a US federal government investigation found that Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) – the project’s general contractor and a subsidiary of a Chinese state-owned conglomerate – had underpaid millions of US dollars to hundreds of construction workers.

A few months ago, several former MCC employees sued the company for forced labour, human trafficking, and failing to compensate them for the physical injuries they suffered while working on the casino project. A company manager also spent time in jail for violating federal immigration and employment laws.

MCC is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX), which, since 2013, has required listed companies to file an annual “Environmental, Social and Governance” (ESG) report on human rights risks in their operations. In theory, such reporting should encourage companies to identify problems and mitigate their effects. But there are few consequences for violators and many companies do not comply.

Amnesty International reviewed the ESG reports filed by MCC for 2016, 2017 and 2018, as well as the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports for those years, but found no mention of the project in Saipan – let alone the abuses that occurred there…

MCC still has not remedied all human rights abuses. While MCC contributed to compensating workers for the minimum wage violations uncovered by a federal government investigation, the 2019 lawsuit highlights that many injured workers remain uncompensated.

The Saipan case clearly shows that the CSR and ESG self-reporting systems are broken. But how can they be improved?

Rather than watching as its companies engage in human rights abuses, China could become a leader in this area by setting high standards for projects in its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)…

China should legally require all companies participating in BRI to carry out human rights due diligence in line with international standards. This means companies must not only file reports, but also identify, prevent, mitigate and account for the human rights impacts of their (and their subsidiaries’) operations.

Chinese government agencies should be given greater powers to punish companies who fall short. Victims of human rights abuses should also be able to seek remedies against the perpetrating entities through courts or other mechanisms.

Such a scenario isn’t as far-fetched as it may sound. This past November, Beijing proclaimed that Chinese companies operating overseas must observe local laws and adhere to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights…

If China passed – and enforced – a law that required its companies to implement and publicly disclose such practices, it would send a meaningful signal that it was serious about protecting human rights and potentially enhance the image of the BRI…

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Author: 塞班论坛报(美国)

“对博华太平洋及其两个承包商的劳工案件可以继续”,2019年6月26日

塞班岛联邦地方法院决定... 允许七名中国建筑工人对赌场运营商博华太平洋国际(北马里亚纳群岛自由邦)有限责任公司及其两家承包商继续进行强迫劳动和人口贩卖诉讼。

案件( Wang, et al. v. Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI), LLC, et al., 18 Civ. 0030)涉及原告在塞班岛博华太平洋赌场和度假村项目上的工作所产生的索赔。第一次修订的投诉引发了根据联邦 「人口贩运受害者保护重新授权法案 (Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act)」和「北马里亚纳群岛自由邦反贩运法(CNMI Anti-Trafficking Act)」对强迫劳动和人口贩运的索赔,以及根据北马里亚纳群岛自由邦法律就原告在该项目中遭受的身体伤害提出的索赔。原告正在为他们的伤病和痛苦以及惩罚性损害寻求金钱赔偿。这些索赔中的每一项都是针对案件中的三名被告:博华太平洋国际,中国中冶塞班国际和金螳螂建筑装饰公司(北马里亚纳群岛自由邦)...

在2019年4月30日,被告提出动议驳回对他们的各种指控。然而,在2019年6月24日的决定中,首席法官Ramona V. Manglona否决了所有被告的动议。法院认定「...原告对每个被告都提出了合理的[强迫劳动]索赔。」

三名被告中的每一位必须在14天内对第一次修改的投诉作出答复...

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Author: 塞班論壇報(美國)

“對博華太平洋及其兩個承包商的勞工案件可以繼續”,2019年6月26日

塞班島聯邦地方法院決定... 允許七名中國建築工人對賭場運營商博華太平洋國際(北馬里亞納群島自由邦)有限責任公司及其兩家承包商繼續進行強迫勞動和人口販賣訴訟。

案件( Wang, et al. v. Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI), LLC, et al., 18 Civ. 0030)涉及原告在塞班島博華太平洋賭場和度假村項目上的工作所產生的索賠。第一次修訂的投訴引發了根據聯邦「人口販運受害者保護重新授權法案(Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act)」和「北馬里亞納群島自由邦反販運法(CNMI Anti-Trafficking Act)」對強迫勞動和人口販運的索賠,以及根據北馬里亞納群島自由邦法律就原告在該項目中遭受的身體傷害提出的索賠。原告正在為他們的傷病和痛苦以及懲罰性損害尋求金錢賠償。這些索賠中的每一項都是針對案件中的三名被告:博華太平洋國際,中國中冶塞班國際和金螳螂建築裝飾公司(北馬里亞納群島自由邦)...

在2019年4月30日,被告提出動議駁回對他們的各種指控。然而,在2019年6月24日的決定中,首席法官Ramona V. Manglona否決了所有被告的動議。法院認定「...原告對每個被告都提出了合理的[強迫勞動]索賠。」

三名被告中的每一位必須在14天內對第一次修改的投訴作出答复...

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Article
15 July 2019

USA: Labour case against Imperial Pacific and its contractors to proceed in Saipan

Author: Saipan Tribune (USA)

"Labor case vs IPI, its two contractors can proceed", 26 June 2019

The federal district court on Saipan decided… to allow the forced labor and human trafficking claims of seven Chinese construction workers against casino operator Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC and its two contractors to proceed.

The case, Wang, et al. v. Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI), LLC, et al., 18 Civ. 0030, involves claims arising from the plaintiffs’ work on the Imperial Pacific casino and resort project on Saipan. The first amended complaint brings claims for forced labor and human trafficking under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act and the CNMI Anti-Trafficking Act, as well as claims under CNMI law for the physical injuries the plaintiffs suffered on the project. Plaintiffs are seeking monetary compensation for their injuries and pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages. Each of these claims is brought against the three defendants in the case: Imperial Pacific International, MCC International Saipan Ltd. Co., and Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI), LLC…

On April 30, 2019, the defendants filed motions to dismiss the various claims against them. However, in a decision dated June 24, 2019, Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona denied all of the defendants’ motions. The court found that “…plaintiffs have stated a plausible [forced labor] claim against each defendant.”

Each of the three defendants must file an answer to the first amended complaint within 14 days...

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Company response
14 July 2019

Response by Imperial Pacific International

Author: Imperial Pacific International

Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC (“IPI”) appreciates the opportunity your organization has offered for us to respond.  As you may know, the plaintiffs first sued over a year ago the companies (“Gold Mantis” and M.C.C.”) who employed them, and that these companies were also the contractors on the Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC (“Imperial Pacific’s”) Hotel-Casino-Resort construction project.  Imperial Pacific was subsequently included as an additional party in the plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint this year.  Because this case involves active litigation, I have advised Imperial Pacific against responding with any further detail to the media and other parties.  Please note that that Imperial Pacific both supports and strives to comply with all federal and local labor and safety laws and regulations aimed at protecting workers from harm and safeguarding their rights, including expecting our contractors to be compliant with these same laws and regulations, and Imperial Pacific will vigorously defend itself in this case.

Article
29 April 2019

USA: Imperial Pacific Intl. agrees to pay US$3.36 million for labour violations

Author: Inside Asian Gaming

“Imperial Pacific to pay US$3.36 million fine for labor violations”, 12 April 2019

Imperial Pacific International will pay US$3.36 million in back wages, liquidated damages and civil monetary penalties to the US Department of Labor following the latter’s investigations into labor violations on the site of IPI’s under-construction Saipan integrated resort.

The violations, committed by IPI’s contractors, relate to a failure to pay minimum wages or overtime and to maintain satisfactory records during a near two-year period from January 2016 to December 2017. The consent judgement, filed in the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands, was signed this week by IPI Chairwoman Cui Li Jie, according to a report by Marianas Variety. Under the judgement, IPI will also “amend [its] payroll practices and require all contractors to amend and maintain their payroll practices by paying all employees an hourly rate in compliance with minimum wage and overtime provision of the labor law.”…

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Author: Author: 马应龙, 环球博讯, Published on: 25 April 2019

“博华太平洋被罚交336万美元”, 2019年4月12日

塞班岛赌场运营商博华太平洋国际公司将向美国劳工部支付336万美元的拖欠工资、违约赔偿金和民事罚款。博华太平洋主席崔丽杰… 签署了在北马里亚纳群岛地方法院提交的同意判决书。

根据判决,博华太平洋还将“修改[其]工资单做法,并要求所有承包商修改和维持其工资单做法,按照最低工资和劳动法的加班规定,按小时支付所有员工的费用。” 这笔336万美元的付款包括158万美元的退款工资,158万美元的违约赔偿金和200,000美元的民事罚款…

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Author: Author: 馬應龍, 環球博訊, Published on: 25 April 2019

“博華太平洋被罰交336萬美元”, 2019年4月12日

塞班島賭場運營商博華太平洋國際公司將向美國勞工部支付336萬美元的拖欠工資、違約賠償金和民事罰款。博華太平洋主席崔麗杰… 簽署了在北馬里亞納群島地方法院提交的同意判決書。

根據判決,博華太平洋還將“修改[其]工資單做法,並要求所有承包商修改和維持其工資單做法,按照最低工資和勞動法的加班規定,按小時支付所有員工的費用。” 這筆336萬美元的付款包括158萬美元的退款工資,158萬美元的違約賠償金和200,000美元的民事罰款…

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Article
25 April 2019

U.S. Department of Labor Secures $3.3 million judgment against Saipan casino developer for systemic wage violations by contractors

Author: U.S Department of Labour

The U.S. Department of Labor has secured a $3,360,000 consent judgment against the developer of the Imperial Pacific Resort Hotel and Casino in Garapan, Saipan, for minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by contractors working on the construction project. Entered by the U.S. District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands, the judgment orders Hong Kong-based Imperial Pacific International Holdings, and its Saipan subsidiary Imperial Pacific International (CNMI), to pay $3,160,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to approximately 1,100 employees. The developer must also pay $200,000 in civil money penalties...

"This judgment demonstrates the U.S. Department of Labor's strong commitment to ensuring employees receive the wages they have earned," said Wage and Hour Division District Director Terence Trotter in Honolulu, Hawaii. "We will continue to enforce the law and level the playing field, while simultaneously encourage employers and employees to call us for assistance, and use the wide variety of tools we provide. Violations like those found in this investigation can be avoided."

The Department's Office of the Solicitor litigated this case.

"In addition to providing $3,360,000 in unpaid wages, liquidated damages, and penalties, this judgment orders the defendants to adhere to an independent monitoring mechanism, and to take additional steps to safeguard the wages and working conditions of employees," said Regional Solicitor Janet Herold in San Francisco. "Regardless of where work is performed in the U.S. or its territories, the U.S. Department of Labor will continue to fully and fairly enforce the law and provide a level playing field for employers."...

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Article
16 March 2019

Hong Kong owner of Pacific island casino sued over forced labor, trafficking claims

Author: Farah Master, Reuters

15 March 2019

Seven Chinese construction workers made the claim...to the Federal Court in Saipan, part of the Northern Mariana Islands.

They are seeking unspecified monetary compensation for pain and suffering as well as punitive damages.

...The filing, which names Imperial Pacific as well as its contractors, MCC International Saipan Ltd and Gold Mantis Construction Decoration, alleges workers were required to work more than 12 hours a day and sometimes do a 24-hour shift.

It also accuses employers of withholding a portion of their wages and claims they often failed to pay them for weeks at a time.

...The filing states Imperial Pacific knew about, or at a minimum, "recklessly disregarded its contractors' exploitive and illegal practices" and that the company was repeatedly told about the use of unauthorized workers on the construction site.

Crammed into dormitories, often with no showers or air-conditioning, plaintiffs were made to work on a construction site that was extremely dangerous, it said.

"One Gold Mantis supervisor, who had already physically beaten another employee, threatened to kill plaintiffs if they disobeyed him," it said in the filing.

All plaintiffs suffered injuries including a badly burnt leg, scalded hand and partially severed finger, according to the filing.

 

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