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

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." 

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".

Get RSS feed of these results

All components of this story

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.”…

Read the full post here

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.

 

Read the full post here

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.”...

 

Download the full document here

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

Download the full document here

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

Download the full document here

Article
2 December 2018

Blog: Labour exploitation in Saipan (again): what difference does 20 years make?

Author: Aaron Halegua, New York University School of Law

Labour practices on the Pacific island of Saipan...are making headlines again...This time around, the victims of labour abuse were migrant construction workers from China...CNMI legislators...granted an exclusive license to build and operate a hotel and casino to Imperial Pacific, a Hong Kong-based company. Imperial Pacific then hired numerous Chinese construction firms...

The firms forced employees to work 13-hour days, offered no day off, paid below minimum wage, served insect-infested meals, provided abysmal living quarters, and confiscated worker passports. Injury rates on the site were far above average; several workers died; and in an effort to conceal the illegal workforce, the firms avoided taking workers to the hospital for treatment...

However, there have been a few positive elements in the response to this episode...The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) charged the Chinese firms with dozens of “serious violations”...The Department of Justice criminally prosecuted firm managers for illegal employment and immigration practices...[T]he U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) reached settlements requiring four of the Chinese construction firms to pay USD 13.9 million in back wages and liquidated damages to over 2,400 employees...

From a legal perspective, one particularly significant aspect of the USDOL settlements is that the compensation included reimbursement by the construction firms of the recruitment fees paid in China by the workers...

This chapter of the Saipan saga does not have an entirely happy ending though. While some remedy was obtained for the Chinese migrants, the workers who replaced them also suffered abuses...The lesson learned with the garment industry is equally applicable here: meaningful change requires accountability at the top of the chain...

[Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Imperial Pacific International, China Metallurgical (MCC) and Gold Mantis Construction Decoration to respond to the lawsuit filed in the federal court for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands by seven Chinese laborers against them for alleged forced labor and other claims. 
Imperial Pacific International responded. China Metallurgical (MCC) and Gold Mantis Construction Decoration did not respond]

Read the full post here

Article
+ 简体中文 - Hide

Author: Aaron Halegua, New York University School of Law

太平洋上塞班岛的劳工问题…再次成为头条新闻…这一次,劳动剥削的受害者是来自中国的建筑工人。…北马里亚纳群岛联邦的立法委员……授予香港帝国太平洋国际公司修建一家赌场酒店的独占许可。帝国太平洋公司随后雇佣了大批中国建筑公司… 

一些公司强迫工人每天工作13个小时,没有节假日;公司仅支付最低工资,还供应生虫的饭菜。工人的居住条件非常差,护照被公司没收。工人的受伤率远高于平均水平,数名工人因工死亡。为了隐瞒使用非法劳工的问题,这些公司不让工人去医院接受治疗……

在应对措施中有一些积极的因素…职业安全与健康管理局(Occupational Safety and Health Administration)起诉这些中国公司犯有数十项“严重违法”行为。…司法部就非法雇佣劳工和将中国移民带入美国境内对公司经理发起刑事诉讼。…美国劳工部已与四家中国建筑公司达成和解协议,要求他们向2400多名工人支付拖欠工资和违约赔偿金1390万美元。…从法律角度而言,美国劳工部与上述公司达成的和解协议中有一项特别重要的条款,即要求建筑公司报销工人们在中国支付的招聘费…

此次塞班事件的结局并不完美。虽然中国工人得到了一些补救,但替代他们的工人也受到了虐待…制衣行业的教训也适用于此:切实的改变需要在供应链的顶端实现问责…

Read the full post here

+ 繁體中文 - Hide

Author: Aaron Halegua, New York University School of Law

太平洋上塞班島的勞工問題…再次成為頭條新聞…這一次,勞動剝削的受害者是來自中國的建築工人。 …北馬里亞納群島聯邦的立法委員……授予香港帝國太平洋國際公司修建一家賭場酒店的獨占許可。帝國太平洋公司隨後僱傭了大批中國建築公司…

一些公司強迫工人每天工作13個小時,沒有節假日;公司僅支付最低工資,還供應生蟲的飯菜。工人的居住條件非常差,護照被公司沒收。工人的受傷率遠高於平均水平,數名工人因工死亡。為了隱瞞使用非法勞工的問題,這些公司不讓工人去醫院接受治療……

在應對措施中有一些積極的因素…職業安全與健康管理局(Occupational Safety and Health Administration)起訴這些中國公司犯有數十項“嚴重違法”行為。 …司法部就非法僱傭勞工和將中國移民帶入美國境內對公司經理髮起刑事訴訟。 …美國勞工部已與四家中國建築公司達成和解協議,要求他們向2400多名工人支付拖欠工資和違約賠償金1390萬美元。 …從法律角度而言,美國勞工部與上述公司達成的和解協議中有一項特別重要的條款,即要求建築公司報銷工人們在中國支付的招聘費…

此次塞班事件的結局並不完美。雖然中國工人得到了一些補救,但替代他們的工人也受到了虐待…製衣行業的教訓也適用於此:切實的改變需要在供應鏈的頂端實現問責…

Read the full post here