Ex-IPI employees rally in front of CCC

IPI has yet to pay $3M regulatory fee due today

The Commonwealth Casino Commission holds its regular monthly meeting at the commission’s main conference room at the Springs Plaza in Gualo Rai yesterday.

About 40 former employees of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC held a protest rally against IPI yesterday in front of the Commonwealth Casino Commission’s office at Springs Plaza in Gualo Rai, where the CCC commissioners held a monthly meeting.

The former workers were protesting against IPI for allegedly not paying three-fourths of their wages as guaranteed in their contract and other issues. Twenty Turkish, 10 Italians, eight Filipinos, and two Malaysians took part in the peaceful demonstration.

Glenn Bell, an Australian who is the former project manager for the Italian workers, and Vicente Seman Aldan, a former IPI employee who is running for a House Precinct 1 position, were allowed to speak and voice their demands and concerns at the CCC meeting.

IPI vice president of Public Affairs Tao Xing, who was at the meeting, said that IPI has heard the concerns of the employees, and that IPI has been and continues to experience some challenges due to COVID-19. He said IPI is working with the CNMI government, the Legislature, and the Commonwealth Lottery Commission on a new framework for financial obligations.

“It will bring sustainability and clarity, which [will] enable funds to be released from financial institutions to IPI. With the new funds, many issues brought up today can be addressed. We appreciate everyone’s patience and hardship,” Xing said.

As of yesterday, IPI has yet to pay the $3-million casino regulatory fee that is due today, Thursday.

When asked if IPI can make the payment today, Xing only stated that the regulatory fee is part of a new proposal that IPI has submitted to CCC. He did not elaborate.

CCC chair Edward Deleon Guerrero said any non-payment of the regulatory fee by today would be a major violation of the casino license agreement, and that IPI’s many violations are already “very frustrating.”

Bell, who led the demonstrators, said the Turkish and Italian nationals were terminated from their jobs, while the Filipinos and Malaysians resigned. Bell said the terminations were made “on the spot” and without giving the workers notice. He said IPI owes the terminated workers unpaid wages, holiday pay, and other benefits.

Ariel Reyes, a Filipino who worked as a casino pit supervisor, said the Filipino workers have had no work since they were furloughed last March 17. Reyes said many of them resigned and most of them already went home without getting the guaranteed three-fourths payments. As for the rest who are still on island, Reyes said they are just waiting for the payment of the three-fourths guarantee because they want to go home.

In order to survive, they’re just relying on relief goods and donations from the government and community, he said.
Reyes started working at IPI in 2015.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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