Construction workers rally anew even as subcontractor says it’s providing aid

IPI denounces hiring of ‘illegal workers’
Gold Mantis construction company workers protest in front of the Imperial Pacific Resort construction site in Garapan last Friday. (Erwin Encinares)

Gold Mantis construction company workers protest in front of the Imperial Pacific Resort construction site in Garapan last Friday. (Erwin Encinares)

Employees of a subcontractor building the multimillion-dollar Imperial Pacific Resort once again marched to the Garapan construction site last Friday morning to once again protest their unpaid wages and broken promises.

This time, following the rally, a representative from Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI), LLC, Robert Gemmill Esq., issued a statement claiming Gold Mantis has been “providing, and is continuing to provide, humanitarian aid to as many as 91 individuals who we understand were, until recently, working on the Imperial Pacific hotel and casino project,” despite the numerous protests.

“Gold Mantis has been working with both CNMI and U.S. government authorities and a local charitable organization (Karidat Social Services) with respect to the logistics of providing this humanitarian aid, which includes food, water, and lodging,” wrote Gemmill in an email.

According to leader of the protest group, Wang Feng Kai, Gold Mantis has been doing otherwise. Wang claims that Gold Mantis still has yet to pay them their wages for early 2017 as well as provide food and proper lodging for the group.

Wang also took a swipe at the CNMI Department of Labor. According to Wang, a member of the CNMI DOL told them that the protests were not as powerful as DOL would like it to be, a statement Labor Secretary Edith DeLeon Guerrero denies.

“The statements made are obviously not true and if it is then I would like for the protester that you approached to identify the employee(s) of the CNMI DOL that could have engaged in such unbecoming behavior,” said DeLeon Guerrero after Saipan Tribune approached the secretary for clarification.

According to Wang, he asked for names but was not given any.

Wang mentioned that somebody appearing to be from the U.S. DOL contacted him through the popular Chinese messaging application WeChat. The message asked him for a picture of a representative of Gold Mantis named Wei Yuan in order to bar him from leaving the CNMI.

However, when approached by Saipan Tribune for clarification, DeLeon Guerrero denied that the CNMI DOL had anything to do with the WeChat account. According to Wang, the account asked for pictures of Wei, but when CNMI DOL visited the last known location of Gold Mantis on Capital Hill, adjacent to former Coffee Care Restaurant, DOL discovered “a locked and what appears to be an abandoned office.”

“The finding of an abandoned office will not stop the CNMI DOL from conducting a thorough and detailed investigation,” said an unfazed DeLeon Guerrero in an email to Saipan Tribune.

“This is an active investigation that the CNMI DOL is working on that will bring resolution to the workers concerns and for their return back home to their families with a must that their concerns be fully addressed by their employer prior to their departure,” she added.

IPI ‘strongly condemns’ hiring of illegal workers, nonpayment of salary

A statement from Imperial Pacific (CNMI) International LLC condemns the ongoing illegal worker situation and the wage problems of said workers.

“IPI publicly denounces in strongest terms the harboring and the use of illegal workers by some of its contractors and subcontractors, and the utter disregard on the rights and well-being of these affected individuals hired for the Imperial Pacific Resort construction project.”

According to IPI, it has been consistent in requiring vendors, contractors, and subcontractors to follow both federal and local laws, a requirement that the company claims is reflected in “clear and unconditional terms in all contracts.

“IPI joins the general public in disavowing this form of illegal practice, which continues to cause undue harm to the Commonwealth and exposes the CNMI to potential negative economic repercussions.”

IPI said it would continue to collaborate and partner with both federal and local authorities in the resolution of these issues and the “safe and immediate repatriation of affected individuals.”

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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