About 35 workers protested yesterday in front of the Imperial Pacific Resort site in Garapan, demanding that they be paid for their services and reimbursement for medical fees incurred from injuries sustained in the workplace.
The workers, mostly Chinese nationals brought in as tourists but working for the contractors of the casino project, told Saipan Tribune that they were getting impatient as the four contractors involved with the construction of the resort has failed to provide them with a timeline on when they can get their promised compensation.
The four contractors are Suzhou Gold Mantis Construction Decoration, MCC International, CMC Macau, and Beilida Overseas (CNMI) Ltd.
Although each worker’s situation is unique, two workers of CMC Macau told Saipan Tribune that they have been offered by CMC Macau $5,000 each to waive CMC Macau’s responsibility over them, an offer both workers refused.
Some workers claim that they have been on Saipan for three months to a year. During their down time, a recruiter has been reportedly assigning them to random jobs, none of which were properly compensated for.
The workers were promised 300 yuan (roughly $44) for nine hours of work daily. Computations show that $44 for eight hours of work is equivalent to $5.50 an hour. The minimum wage on Saipan is $6.55 per eight hours while federal law states an extra 1.5 percent of their rate is added for each subsequent hour.
The workers also claimed that the breakdown of their paycheck showed that they were being paid for only eight hours of work, meaning the one-hour overtime they were doing were unaccounted for.
One worker claimed to have worked for MCC from Sept. 29, 2016, to Nov. 15, 2016, but has yet to receive compensation. He said he was living off doing random jobs everyday just to get by. The same worker also reportedly attempted to approach Imperial Pacific Resort management for assistance, but was reportedly told to claim compensation from his recruiter.
Beilida workers claimed that they had a safety meeting in September 2016. They were reportedly told to “be careful in the workplace because if they get hurt, they would be responsible for their medical bills due to negligence in the workplace,” said a translator.
A common denominator among all the workers is that they were declined work injury compensation despite demands for it, which the U.S. Department of Labor has failed to address. According to a source, numerous workers have sustained injuries during the construction of the hotel.
“[A worker named] Zhang Gui Lin suffered two injuries while working for MCC. In 2016, a thick piece of steel smashed his foot. In January 2017, while he and two others were pulling a cable to lift something, he pulled a muscle in his back, which hurt for more than a week. [Zhang] has numbness in three of his fingers [up to this date]. Another MCC worker, Zhao Bao Jin, has had his arm injured by a metal pipe that slipped,” the source said.
The demands of the workers were similar to previous protests: reimbursement of their placement fees, equipment fees, and medical fees, some of which reached 30,000 to 80,000 yuan ($4,408 to $11,756); the recalculation of their salaries following Saipan’s minimum wage and overtime rates; compensation for the days that they were forcibly stopped working; and for their plane tickets to be shouldered by their respective companies.
The same group of workers reportedly protested about a week ago.