Chinese workers erupted in protest again yesterday, expressing dismay over the imminent opening of the casino and the sluggish pace of negotiations between the companies and labor offices involved. They claimed that the first batch of workers got paid quickly compared to them.
The protest, which lasted two hours in front of the partially completed and still closed Imperial Pacific Resort, comprised about 43 unpaid workers of Suzhou Gold Mantis Construction Decoration, MCC International, CMC Macau, and Beilida Overseas (CNMI) Ltd.
One of the 43 protesting workers, Zhang Chunfeng, told Saipan Tribune yesterday that the group is unhappy that the casino was able to get a conditional certificate of occupancy last May 16, while the workers that built the casino itself have yet to receive a portion of their hard-earned money.
The conditional certificate of occupancy would basically allow the casino to operate with limited services.
“We haven’t have any updates since we moved [to our current barracks],” said Zhang. “We were only told that there were discussions going on with the U.S. Department of Labor, so we are still here [waiting],” he said, adding that the casino would be opening soon but their wages have yet to be settled. Zhang and his colleagues moved to their current barracks in mid-May.
“How is it that Imperial Pacific can be permitted to open the casino and profit from it, while the workers who built it still have not been legally compensated?” asked Zhang.
It was reported by the protesters that the CNMI Department of Labor’s last visit with them was at their May protest.
Another protester, Zhang Guilin, explained that the group believes that their “wages should be paid” prior to the opening of the casino.
A source familiar with the protesters and the matter informed Saipan Tribune through email that as the group was protesting yesterday, Gold Mantis workers reportedly received an offer from the company to be paid $5,000 each and that they will purchase their own tickets going back to China. All the workers reportedly refused the offer. The source said that, according to the workers, the amount is barely enough to pay off the interest on the money they borrowed to pay for their recruitment fee to Saipan.
Some workers paid up to $10,000 in recruitment fees back in China.
The workers insisted that they be paid the amounts owed them under the law and that they would not be returning home “until all workers were paid this amount by all contractors.”
According to the protesters, USDOL reportedly told them during a visit last Wednesday that they have yet to arrive at an agreement with the lawyers representing Gold Mantis, CMC Macau, Beillida, and MCC.