A group of Chinese workers in Saipan staged a protest on Friday (28 April 2017) to call for salaries and compensation payback. Hired by the Suzhou-based Gold Mantis Construction Decoration Company Limited, the workers were cheated to enter Saipan as tourist. They too allegedly have yet to receive their wages which is lower than the local minimum wage standards. After several protests by the workers, Gold Mantis finally stated that they would provide the workers with food, water and lodging as “humanitarian aid” but did not respond to the workers’ unpaid wages.
The investor of the casino project is Hong Kong-listed Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd. (Stock Code:1076). MCC International and Beilida Overseas are the two contractors of the project where Gold Mantis is the subcontractor. According to FBI’s investigation, a worker surnamed Hu died in the construction site in March. He entered Saipan on 7 March 2017 as tourist and his visa was due on 17 March. The death of the worker drew the attention of the FBI and thus searched the project construction site and arrested the MCC project manager Yuqing Zhao, 42; Xiufang Qi and Wencai Guo of Beilida Overseas (CNMI) Ltd. on charges of unlawful employment of aliens and bringing in and harboring certain aliens; and also charged but yet to be arrested were MCC electrician Pei Ruan, 28; Beilida Overseas’ president and director Hui Lu, 32 and an employee of Marianas Enterprises Limited, but worked in the Beilida office Hongwei Ma, 25. The undocumented workers were then all sacked.
The interviewed workers alleged that they have been working without pay since 27 February. Workers have then staged a stoppage since 3 April and also two protests in the Garapan construction site on 14 and 18 April. The management stated they were about to pay the wage in arrear on 19 April but did not come true. The workers told the media that the project management and the accountant of Gold Mantis met them on 17 April and requested them to sign an agreement that saying the signee has received the payment and would forego the claim. Since the salary offered by Gold Mantis is much less than the actual salary that workers are entitled to and the salary offered was not stated on the agreement, some of the workers refused to sign. Some workers signed the agreement only received a weekly pay of US$134 which the actual pay should be US$634.
Referring to the verbal contract made between the workers and the company, workers could gain US$43.57 for 9-hour daily work and every overtime hour would be paid for US$7.26. However, the workers indeed worked 7 days a week, 13 hours a day without rest day nor overtime payment. Their average hourly salary was US$5.44 which is less than the local minimum hourly pay of US$6.55.
Gold Mantis workers stated they paid Gold Mantis an agency fee ranging from US$3,000 to 5,000. The 92 of them were recruited from all over China, and representative from Gold Mantis promised to offer them work in Saipan while the work permit would be arranged by the employer once they arrived the island. Workers were also required to pay for their own uniforms. Most of the workers’ salary were deducted from US$1,000 to 1,600 for “poll tax”, and have to take care of their own work injury treatment. Their contacts in China asked them to say nothing to anybody and just do whatever was told to them at the construction site. After Gold Mantis management’s failure on persuading the workers to sign the above said agreement they all fled to China.
(A number of Gold Mantis workers got injured at work without any work injury benefits and compensation)
The protesting workers demand Gold Mantis to settle their unpaid salaries, overtime wages, return tickets back home, return their recruitment fee and the money they paid for the uniform. Yet, they hear no response from Gold Mantis so far and will stage another protest on the International Workers’ Day.
(Petition letter signed by the 92 Gold Mantis workers.)
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