Gold Mantis, US Labor said to have reached agreement

A construction contractor that is building the casino in Garapan has reportedly reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor regarding the unpaid wages of construction workers after U.S. Labor and company representatives visited the workers’ barracks in the early hours of Tuesday.

According to sources familiar with the matter, three individuals—two representing the U.S. Labor Department and another claiming to be a lawyer for Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI), LLC—visited the barracks of the illegal Chinese workers at about 1:30am last Tuesday regarding the settlement of the workers’ unpaid wages.

Gold Mantis workers have reportedly not been receiving their pay since early 2017. Gold Mantis has also reportedly called for the temporary suspension of the workers due to the ongoing federal investigation into the harboring of illegal aliens. Gold Mantis is the same company responsible for Beijing’s engineering masterpiece called “Bird’s Nest,” which also served as the stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The three individuals that visited the workers’ barracks last Tuesday reportedly offered the construction workers a down payment of $1,600 each upon leaving Saipan. The workers were also promised a single payment of $10,000 to $20,000, depending on how long they’ve been working for Gold Mantis, to be deposited directly into their Chinese bank accounts. The gross payment per worker would also be subject to local tax deductions.

The three had with them transportation to bring the workers to the Saipan airport and tickets for the next flight headed to China—an offer the workers refused.

Sources told Saipan Tribune that the workers declined the offer because they doubted Gold Mantis’ word about the payments. The workers reportedly refused to leave Saipan without confirmation from their family members back in China that the money has been deposited in full in their bank accounts. Reportedly, once the workers receive their payments in full, they would leave Saipan as soon as possible.

The workers also reportedly mentioned that most of their demands during the protests had been met; the workers ultimately accepted the offer of Gold Mantis.

The demands of the workers include having their employer, Gold Mantis, pay them at a rate of $6.55 per hour as promised, have Gold Mantis return numerous expenses that were deducted from their payroll, have their wages paid when Gold Mantis informed them that they had to stop working since late February, have Gold Mantis provide them with a ticket home, and refund the $50 to $100 deducted for their uniforms.

Sources told Saipan Tribune that the lawyer representing Gold Mantis said the company was still working on the acquisition of the net amount for each worker so that they may be paid as soon as possible.

An earlier statement from a Gold Mantis representative named Robert Gemmill said that the company 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.”

The statement claimed Gold Mantis has been working with both CNMI and U.S. government authorities as well as Karidat “with respect to the logistics of providing this humanitarian aid, which includes food, water, and lodging.”

Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC, the company that hired Gold Mantis, said in its most recent statement that it “denounces in the strongest terms harboring of illegal workers by some of its contractors [and] subcontractors and will continue to work with authorities in the amicable resolution of issues.”

It was earlier reported that another Imperial Pacific contractor, MCC International, was found harboring illegal aliens and failing to pay their wages.

An arrest warrant was issued last April 4, 2017, after a complaint charged MCC project manager Yuqing Zhao and MCC electrician Pei Ruan with the unlawful employment of aliens and bringing in and harboring certain aliens.

Representatives of Beilida Overseas (CNMI), another construction company that is allegedly involved with the same charge as MCC, were also arrested. Xiufang Qi and Wencai Guo of Beilida were stopped and arrested last April 5 at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport while the two were reportedly attempting to leave the CNMI.

As of publication, it was not specified by past protestors whether the workers have received their unpaid wages and the whereabouts of MCC officials have yet to be known.

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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