New group of workers suing IPI for alleged failed promises

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Posted on Nov 26 2020

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A group of workers have filed a complaint against Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC for allegedly failing to provide them with what it promised them to come to Saipan, including paying them at least the minimum wage and providing them food according to their culture.

H-2B construction workers from Turkey—represented by Ozcan Genc, Hasan Gokce and Suleyman Kos—filed the complaint against IPI and IDS Development Management & Consultancy with the U.S District Court for the NMI for allegedly forcing them to eat Chinese food, for allegedly not paying them the minimum wage and overtime, and for allegedly not paying them their salaries since Oct. 1. The workers are also accusing the defendants of retaliation for the workers’ protest actions.

IDS Development Management & Consultancy is a company registered in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. IDS recruits workers in Turkey and the Middle East and manages them in construction projects worldwide.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs said that IPI promised the Turkish workers that it would hire a cook who could prepare the kind of food suited to them. They were also promised above-minimum wage, substantial overtime pay, and round-trip tickets.

However, the workers said the meals IPI gave them were Chinese food that were “practically inedible” for Turkish people so they ended up buying their own food and cooking for themselves. It was not immediately clear if their opposition to Chinese food was for other than the reason they cited in the complaint.

Aside from IPI allegedly breaking its promise to hire a cook that specializes in Turkish food, the Turkish workers ultimately had to borrow money from acquaintances for their travel costs and other expenses.

The group stated they also weren’t paid the wages they were promised. Genc, a foreman and welding team leader, said IPI changed his title to carpenter and promised him a salary of $21,840 a year. Gokce, a plumbing foreman, said he was given the title plumber and was also promised $21,840 per annum. Kos, an electrician, was promoted to electrical foreman and was also promised the same salary.

The plaintiffs said their work hours were drastically cut and all overtime work was eliminated since June. Then delay in payrolls started on June 19.

IPI allegedly did not provide them pay stubs so they did not see the deductions made on their salaries.

In addition, health insurance premiums were allegedly deducted from their paycheck, but when they got sick and went to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. they were told that their health insurance coverage had been suspended for nonpayment of premiums.

When the workers stopped work on Sept. 11 for three weeks in protest, they said IPI stopped providing them with drinking water and internet services at their barracks and also stopped their access to company vehicles in October.

Genc, Gokce, and Kos filed the complaint on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated H-2B workers who were recruited from Turkey.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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