As Saipan Casino Opens, Migrant Construction Workers Still Fighting for Wages & Injury Compensations
“The casino is scheduled to open [soon] and will earn Imperial Pacific millions of dollars. But neither the casino nor the companies it hired has paid us – the workers – even the minimum wage for the hours that we spent building it. This is unfair and unjust. Imperial Pacific should pay the money that we are owed. We will protest until we are paid what we have earned and the injured workers receive proper and just treatment.”
-- Protesting workers on Saipan, July 3, 2017
On May 16, 2017, we called on allies to demand that the Hong Kong-based Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited remedy the abusive labor conditions on its $500 million casino project in Saipan, a U.S. Commonwealth. As of July 6, the casino is now open, but the Chinese migrant workers who built it – doing grueling work for long hours under dangerous conditions – still have not been legally compensated.
These workers were never paid the minimum wage, and some were not paid at all. Injured workers were never taken to see a doctor, let alone compensated for their injuries. Two contractors reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor to remedy wage violations for some of their employees, but hundreds of workers still have not been paid the minimum wage or overtime.
Imperial Pacific engaged some of China’s largest construction contractors to build the casino on the fast and cheap. These companies include the state-run China Metallurgical Group (MCC), Nanjing Beilida New Material System Engineering, Suzhou Gold Mantis Construction Decoration, and CMC Macao. There was no concern for worker safety: a federal agency fined these contractors nearly $200,000 after finding 20 serious violations of health and safety regulations, including fraudulent injury records, unguarded machines, unsecured and unsafe scaffolding, and inadequate fall protection. One worker fell 24 feet to his death because of inadequate safety precautions. The companies did not buy workers’ compensation insurance, refused to provide medical attention to workers, and have not compensated the injured workers.
At least 40 of these workers remain on Saipan and have been demanding legal compensation for all who labored on the site, including those who returned to China. They demonstrated outside the casino on May 25, 2017, but received no response. They protested again on June 22 and then on July 3. One contractor offered its former employees $5,000 and a plane ticket if they returned home to China. The workers refused, stating that they mustall get paid.
It is no longer enough for Imperial Pacific to “denounce” the abuse of these workers; it must ensure that they are paid legally and treated humanely. We, therefore, demand that Imperial Pacific take immediate action to:
1. Reimburse the recruitment fees paid to obtain work with these contractors;
2. Compensate each hour worked according to minimum wage and overtime laws; and
3. Ensure injured workers receive medical treatment and fair compensation for the injuries suffered building the casino.
You Can Take Action Too:
- Follow the Gold Mantis Labor account on Twitter for pictures, videos, and articles on the workers’ struggle:https://twitter.com/GoldMantisLabor.
- Email Imperial Pacific ([email protected]) to demand that all exploited casino workers receive the pay and compensation to which they are entitled, and please CC [email protected] on your email.
Selected Media Coverage:
Emily Feng, Chinese workers protest against Hong Kong casino on US island, Financial Times, July 6, 2017.
Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa, ‘We will protest until we get paid’, Marianas Variety, July 4, 2017.
Video: 仍有四十多名中国工人被困塞班岛, 美国之音, 2017年6月30日。
Saipan casino workers protest for payment as FBI cites illegal labor, Reuters, April 14, 2017.