Forty-six construction workers brought in by a contractor of the casino in Garapan are demanding that Jiangsu Provincial Construction Group pay them nine months of overtime pay.
Robert Torres, the lawyer for Jiangsu Provincial, insists that they are cooperating with both federal and local officials about the claims being made by workers that they haven’t received any overtime pay.
Torres told Saipan Tribune that his client has settled all of its obligations to its workers. “The workers were paid their regular time and were also paid their overtime rates by Jiangsu—the hours they worked and if they worked overtime.”
“The company absolutely and categorically denies that they were not paid. With respect to recruitment fees and agency fees, Jiangsu is a construction company and not a manpower or recruitment agency. Jiangsu neither charges any agency or recruitment fees for any of the workers.”
He added that they also met with the authorities to resolve the issue. “Jiangsu is cooperating with federal and local labor officials, and wage and hourly personnel and we’re providing them all the information they need. As to their claim of not getting paid, it is simply and manifestly untrue.”
The workers, who all entered the CNMI legally using CW-1 work visas, staged their protest yesterday in front of the Garapan casino. On top of overtime pay, they are also demanding for the deposit and recruitment fess that were reportedly promised them by the company. They also claim that their supposedly two-year contract had been terminated and they were asked to leave the CNMI, with four scheduled to depart today.
Other sources privy to the issue said that Jiangsu’s contract with IPI is only for nine months and they have been working on two projects of American Sinopan—the Saipan Garden Resort in Tanapag and Heaven II on Capital Hill.
Torres explained that the workers need to depart the CNMI because their CW-1 visas are about to expire. “They have to leave before the expiration dates, Sept. 12 and 20. If they choose to stay, they have unlawful presence here and hence can’t go back to work here on Saipan. We’re complying with the law and they have to leave to get renewed.”
Jiangsu Provincial is a CNMI construction company based in China. The workers did construction work at the casino-hotel, while American Sinopan was getting their paperwork done for their own two development projects.
Jiangsu is a subcontractor of a contractor tapped by Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC. An IPI source said they have already paid Jiangsu.
One of the workers, Wang Yanlin, who spoke through an interpreter, said that Jiangsu was on time in paying their wages of $50 a day, but they have yet to receive the more than 20,000 yuan (almost $3,000) promised to them aside from their OT.
“They owe us money. They have not paid our OT and we are now asking to get paid. We work nine hours a day for nine months. Now, they told us that we have to leave,” said Wang, who is one of the four workers who is scheduled to leave today.
The $50 per day rate mentioned by Wang is only $5.55 or below the $7.25 level of the federal minimum wage.
The workers, after the nine-month project at IPI, moved to the two hotels being developed by American Sinopan.
Wang said he and his colleagues were promised that they would get refunds on the fees they paid when they were recruited in China.
IPI officials, sources said, also provided a translator to help communicate with local labor officials in filing their complaint with Jiangsu.
Wang said they were promised a two-year contract, but it was terminated and they were told that they have to go back to China. Chen Qian, Dong Yue Bo, and Chen Tai Bing are the other workers who are scheduled to leave today that’s also being shouldered by Jiangsu.