A New York-based lawyer has questioned why Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) has claimed it is “pleased” with a settlement agreement between its contracted employer MCC International and illegally contracted workers waiting to be paid.
According to a report in The Saipan Tribune, the same lawyer – who asked not to be named – has also claimed that some workers are still awaiting payment despite MCC reaching an agreement with the US Department of Labor to pay six remaining workers.
His comments come after IPI said last week that it was unaware of the details of the agreement but was “pleased” with the outcome.
“It is unclear how IPI can be ‘pleased’ by a settlement about which they do not know the actual terms,” the lawyer is quoted as saying. “And, if they want to know the terms, what is the reason that they cannot get these answers from MCC?”
The latest developments follow news last week that a US advocate group for Chinese workers had sent a letter to IPI urging the company to pay former construction workers on the site of its Imperial Pacific Resort in Saipan “the full amount they are owed” in the wake of a compensation offer made last year.
Li Qiang, founder and executive director of China Labor Watch, contacted IPI after learning that the company was ceasing humanitarian support for workers illegally employed by MCC International. MCC International and another company, Suzhou Gold Mantis Construction Decoration, paid out money owed to around 100 employees last year under a directive from the US Department of Labor. Li is believed to have been in touch with the aforementioned lawyer.
“The other people who worked for MCC or Gold Mantis, who were part of earlier settlements, also had their recruitment fees repaid by those companies. Why shouldn’t these workers?” the China Labor Watch letter asked.
“Both [companies] are responsible for paying these amounts and the companies can then fight among themselves over who ultimately bears the costs.
“Imperial Pacific should pay these workers the full amount they are owed and then it can seek to recover this money from the contractors that it hired. This is the fair and just thing to do. Do not ask the workers to chase after MCC, they have already tried.”
The Saipain Tribune is also reporting that a second letter was sent to IPI late last week from Hong Kong urging payment of the six remaining workers with the workers insisting that they had yet to see a cent despite the US Department of Labor agreement.
“It is not accurate to say that the USDOL agreement settles our claims. Nobody has told us the actual terms of the settlement, let alone shown us a copy of the settlement agreement, and we have not received a penny at this point,” Li reportedly said.
Central to the workers’ claim is whether they will be paid recruitment fees, back wages and damages.
“The workers do not know the answers to any of these questions,” the lawyer said. “Apparently, IPI also does not know the answers. Therefore, neither party can really comment on the settlement.”