IPI’s subcontractor: 7 are not our employees

Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI) LLC now argues that the seven construction workers who are suing the company, Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC, and another contractor, are not their employees but that of another subcontractor that used to work on IPI’s casino/resort project in Garapan.

Gold Mantis, through its counsel Tiberius D. Mocanu, said it does not have enough information to know whether that subcontractor has paid the seven plaintiffs their wages.

Mocanu did not identify the subcontractor’s name.

In Gold Mantis’ answer to the lawsuit of the seven plaintiffs, Mocanu said that the company’s management returned to China in March 2017.

Gold Mantis used to serve as a subcontractor of IPI’s casino/resort project.

The lawyer admits that there was a protest in January 2017 by workers who alleged they were owed money by Gold Mantis.

The plaintiffs—Tianming Wang, Dong Han, Yongjun Meng, Liangcai Sun, Youli Wang, Quingchun Xu, and Xiyang Du—are suing IPI, Gold Mantis, and contractor MCC International Saipan Ltd Co. over the injuries they suffered during accidents at IPI’s casino/resort project worksite.

The plaintiffs, who are all Chinese nationals, are suing the defendants for alleged forced labor in violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, forced labor in violation of the CNMI Anti-Trafficking Act, negligence, and liability for employees of subcontractor.

The workers alleged, among other things, that they were forced to work long hours for below minimum wage under extremely dangerous conditions at the casino-resort worksite.

In Gold Mantis’ answer to the complaint, Mocanu said his client employed a safety officer and that that person’s duty was to maintain a safe workplace.

Mocanu said Gold Mantis admits that it was delinquent in paying its workers the minimum wage required under applicable laws.

Mocanu said the company admits that it settled certain labor disputes with the U.S. Department of Labor.

The lawyer said the company admits to the extent that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found violations committed by the company and that a fire occurred on March 14, 2017.

He did not specify whether Gold Mantis management left the CNMI before or after the fire.

A 43-year-old Chinese national died on March 22, 2017, after he reportedly fell 24 feet to the ground from a scaffold at the construction site of IPI’s casino/resort project.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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