USA: Labour groups & academics call on Congress to inquire into labour violations at the Imperial Pacific casino in Saipan, CNMI

On February 22 2018, 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." 

The list of alleged labour violations at the Imperial Pacific construction site, linked to construction companies like Gold Mantis and MCC, include "false promises about working conditions, enormous recruitment fees, failure to pay minimum wage, horrible living conditions, and shocking rates of workplace injuries".

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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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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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Article
14 March 2019

Chinese construction workers sue Saipan casino and its Chinese contractors for forced labor scheme in U.S. federal court

Author: Aaron Halegua

15 March 2019

Press Release:

...Seven Chinese construction workers, who labored on the Imperial Pacific casino and resort project in Saipan, part of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (“CNMI”), have amended their lawsuit in the federal district court there to allege that they were victims of a forced labor scheme.... 

...It is alleged that, “Plaintiffs were required to work over 12 hours per day without any rest day, and sometimes were forced to work a 24-hour shift. Even though Plaintiffs’ pay rate was already below the legal minimum wage, their employers systematically withheld a portion of their earned wages and often failed to pay them anything for weeks at a time. Plaintiffs were crammed into dormitories, some of which had no showers or air-conditioning. Their supervisors yelled and cursed at them, and forced them to pay fines if they did not work hard enough or arrived late. The Imperial Pacific construction site was also extremely dangerous. The injury incidence rate exceeded the national average as untrained and inexperienced workers were pushed to work around-the-clock while basic safety precautions were ignored.”

 ...As for Imperial Pacific, the First Amended Complaint alleges, “Imperial Pacific knew about or, at a minimum, recklessly disregarded its contractors’ exploitative and illegal practices…. However, rushing to complete the project, rather than remedy the situation, Imperial Pacific and its contractors sought to conceal their illegal scheme from government authorities, medical providers, and any other party that might hold them accountable. Imperial Pacific and its contractors denied entry to an investigator from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration …who came to inspect safety conditions on the worksite. The unauthorized Chinese workers were also told to hide when government inspectors did come to the worksite or dormitories.”...

 

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Item
25 February 2019

Letter to Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, United States Senate re: Labor violations at the Imperial Pacific casino in Saipan, CNMI

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Item
25 February 2019

Letter to Committee on Natural Resources, United States House of Representatives re: Labor violations at the Imperial Pacific casino in Saipan, CNMI

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