Five of the 22 Chinese workers who are still on island claim that recruitment fees were left out of the amount offered them by Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC and the CNMI Department of Labor.
Speaking through a translator, the five workers told Saipan Tribune that they were only offered $4,000 up to $6,000—amounts that they deem too low to accept. They reportedly paid recruitment fees amounting from $5,000 to over $10,500.
In a statement, Imperial Pacific International clarified that the responsibility to pay the remaining workers belongs to their employers.
“Nevertheless, [IPI] offered humanitarian support to the workers in an effort to reunite them with their families and to provide some monetary relief pending full payment from their employers,” the statement said.
The IPI statement said the Department of Labor’s investigation of the total amount owed the workers is ongoing.
“Imperial Pacific International supports the full payment of all amounts legally owed to these workers,” the statement adds. “Imperial Pacific will continue to work with [CNMI Labor] to help resolve the outstanding issues with the workers and their employers.”
One of the workers claimed that he paid over $10,500 in recruitment fees but was reportedly offered just $4,800 in compensation. He wants additional compensation to cover his recruitment fees and compensation for the period that he has been without work on the island. The worker reportedly worked on the casino through MCC International from February 2017 until March 2017.
Lin, a worker who has been working on the casino since July 2016 up to the end of March 2017, was the most heated. IPI representatives initially offered him about $6,800, which soon became $9,000 after a second round of negotiations. Lin is demanding $18,000. He reportedly paid about $5,400 in recruitment fees to get to Saipan.
Another worker is demanding between $10,000 and $12,000. This worker was initially reportedly offered over $3,000 that was bumped to $4,000. The worker is a father of a 10-year old boy and a 3-year old girl.
A worker, identified as Jin, was reportedly injured during his time working on the casino. He showed Saipan Tribune his left shoulder, which has a prominent lump that he said he got while on the job and he believes is the cause for the restricted movement on his left shoulder. Jin reportedly paid over $10,200 in recruitment fees and demands to be compensated between $14,000 and $15,000, including payment for his injuries and medical fees as well as compensation for his idle time on the island. Jin reportedly worked from September 2016 until the end of March 2017. Jin was reportedly offered about $5,900.
The mellowest of the group was offered $6,000. Though he feels he deserves more, he told Saipan Tribune that he is willing to negotiate. He said he is a father of two: a 13-year old daughter and a 9-year old son.
Saipan Tribune tried but failed since last week to obtain comments from IPI.
The workers claimed that they received a call from the U.S. Department of Labor shortly after declining the most recent negotiation attempts of IPI.
USDOL reportedly urged the workers to accept the offer, with the reported promise that USDOL will urge IPI to pay the difference. However, they declined since they want to include the recruitment fees in the calculations.
The workers said the amounts offered them were reportedly based on DOL’s calculation of the amounts owed each worker.
According to the workers, three batches have already accepted the offers. The 23 workers who accepted the offers have already left the island.
“I want to ensure that whatever is owed to me I would receive before I leave,” Lin told Saipan Tribune.
“I won’t have the peace of mind if I don’t get what I am owed because I fear that they would not pay me,” he said, adding that he knows how much he is owed. “We want to get [what is owed us] before we leave the island, regardless of who pays.”
The remaining Chinese workers alleged in a previous statement that IPI has attempted to coerce them into accepting the offers of the casino.
The remaining Chinese workers were hired by MCC International. The workers entered through the CNMI-only visa waiver program, a program that enables passport holders of China and Russia to enter without obtaining visas from the U.S. embassies in their countries. Chinese and Russian passport holders that enter the CNMI through the visa waiver program are considered tourists and are only allowed a 30-day stay in the CNMI.