Chinese worker advocate group reaches out to IPI

A Chinese worker advocate group based in New York has reached out to Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC over the holidays, urging the company to pay the workers what they are “legally owed.”

According to a letter from Li Qiang, founder and executive director of China Labor Watch, the Chinese worker advocacy group based in New York is urging IPI to stop “picking on these workers by cutting off their food, water, and housing” and instead pay them what she believes is legally owed to them.

China Labor Watch, or CLW, is a non-profit organization that advocates for better conditions for Chinese workers globally.

Her letter was sent after Hong Kong newspaper outlets published stories of the illegal Chinese workers who were denied pay after being illegally recruited to construct the Imperial Pacific Resort under IPI’s former main contractor, MCC International.

Li’s letter, which was addressed to Carman Chow of IPI, cited the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, that suggests employees who receive compensation late are entitled to receive legal compensation and liquidated damages of an equal amount.

“The other people who worked for MCC or Gold Mantis, who were part of earlier settlements, also had their recruitment fees repaid by those companies. Why shouldn’t these workers?” asked Li in her letter.

Over 100 employees under MCC and Suzhou Gold Mantis Construction Decoration in mid-2017 paid a number of their employees amounts owed to them based on the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Li added that under the joint employment provision of the FLSA, both direct employers as well as the company that contracted with them are responsible for the employee’s wages.

“…Both [companies] are responsible for paying these amounts, and the companies can then fight among themselves over who ultimately bears the costs,” she said, adding that regardless of who shoulders the amount, the workers should be paid.

“…Imperial Pacific should pay these workers the full amount they are owed, and then it can seek to recover this money from the contractors that it hired. This is the fair and just thing to do. Do not ask the workers to chase after MCC; they have already tried,” she said.

Last Nov. 20, 2017, IPI’s legal representative Sean Frink informed the remaining workers that IPI would be ceasing humanitarian support. The communication added that if the workers did not receive the monetary offers made to them, IPI would be forever withdrawing the offer. Offers made to the workers included retroactive compensatory payments in addition to shouldering their repatriation to China.

IPI has been providing humanitarian support to the workers while claiming that they were not obligated to.

According to the workers, the offers IPI made to them was not enough to shoulder recruitment fees, even despite the fact that IPI is following the recommendations made by the CNMI Department of Labor.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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