Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said he didn’t lie at the U.S. Senate hearing last Feb. 6 in Washington, D.C. when asked if there were still unpaid workers on Saipan.
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) had asked Torres at the hearing if he knows of any unpaid workers on Saipan, to which he replied that he was unaware of such.
“For the record, when I testified at the Senate, they asked me if all the employees of Imperial Pacific International are taken cared of. To my knowledge, they are,” he said.
“I didn’t know there were five that were not paid. I didn’t lie or I didn’t know about the five [and learned] only [about them] when they came out Thursday. I’m on top of it and I will be calling the U.S. Department of Labor to ask the cases about these workers,” he added.
The five workers, part of a group tourists who entered the CNMI illegally, were employees of MCC International, and worked on the Imperial Pacific Resort building in Garapan. The other workers have already gone back to China in the wake of federal indictments against the companies that IPI subcontracted to build its resort.
In a statement by a representative of the workers, they said it is “hard to understand” how Torres does not know about the unpaid workers on Saipan.
Torres said the reason why the workers are still on Saipan is a federal issue.
“I don’t know what the case or where it is at this point but I will find that out. I want to know who made the offer to these workers—the USDOL or IPI? I don’t know that,” he said.
“Those are the things that I want to clear out. I will call IPI and ask for an update on what’s going on…I want to find out if USDOL has been notified and know what is the next process,” he added.
Torres said it is unacceptable to let an individual work and not get paid.
“This scenario is not acceptable… It’s not just Best Sunshine, it is anybody you work for…no matter who they are. If there are other workers out there, then they should come out so we can make sure we take care of it and take care of those allegations,” he said
“It doesn’t matter who you are—if you work, then you should get paid. If workers feel that they are being underpaid…then what is the next step? If we need to bring in USDOL to come in, then we should and, if not, I would like to know what’s going on, why are they not here addressing the [issue],” he added.