Construction workers told to wait until Aug. 15

Chinese workers once again staged a protest rally in front of the soon-to-open Imperial Pacific Resort casino in Garapan. (Erwin Encinares)

Chinese workers once again staged a protest rally in front of the soon-to-open Imperial Pacific Resort casino after learning that its opening would push through on Thursday.

An estimated 40 protesters gathered in the area yesterday to express their dismay about the casino opening, saying they have yet to be paid for their work. The protesters were composed of workers of Suzhou Gold Mantis Construction Decoration, MCC International, CMC Macau, and Beilida Overseas (CNMI) Ltd.

“The casino is scheduled to open…and will earn Imperial Pacific millions of dollars. But neither the casino nor the companies it hired has paid us—the workers—even the minimum wage for the hours that we spent building it,” said the protesters through a source familiar with the matter.

“We will protest until we are paid what we have rightfully earned and the injured workers receive proper and just treatment,” the protesters added.

The group has reportedly visited the U.S. Department of Labor office at least once a week since April 2017. In their visit last Monday, they were reportedly told to be patient until Aug. 15. It was not clear if their demands will be met by then.

According to Liu Yaqiang, the group is currently waiting for their wages to be calculated according to the CNMI’s minimum wage, recruitment fees for reimbursement, and their return tickets.

Zhang Guilin, who spoke for the group through a translator, said all they want is for “Labor to help settle everything. [We] want to go home and see our families.”

The group feels the “casino should not be opened until the unpaid wages and problems are solved,” said Guilin, adding that health and safety concerns have been a lingering issue during the construction.

Zhang cited an instance where one of his colleagues recently felt pain on the right side of his abdomen.

“… [We] don’t have money so he just took over-the-counter pain relievers,” he said.

The workers demand that their placement fees, equipment fees, and medical fees be reimbursed by the companies, which range in amount from 30,000 to 80,000 yuan ($4,408 to $11,756); the recalculation of their salaries following Saipan’s minimum wage and overtime rates; compensation for the days that they were forcibly told to stop working; and for their tickets home to be shouldered by the companies involved.

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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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