IPI urged to address workers’ complaints

SENATOR Justo Quitugua urged Imperial Pacific International to address the 37 construction workers’ demand for their back-wages from their employers, IPI’s contractors whose officials have already left the island.

IPI, which has been providing the workers free housing and food, has offered to pay for their plane tickets to China and a portion of what they say their employers owe them.

Quitugua, chairman of the Senate Committee on Gaming, said IPI should come up with an offer that is acceptable to the workers.

Justo Quitugua

Quitugua, along with Senate President Arnold Palacios, Sen. Sixto Igisomar and Sen. Jude Hofschneider, attended the Commonwealth Casino Commission board meeting on Thursday.

Quitigua said it was not the CNMI government or IPI that recruited the workers.

“They should go after their recruiters. The CNMI and IPI should not be obligated to pay what they and the recruiter agreed upon.”

He said the casino commission meeting on Thursday allowed him and the other senators to get updates on the progress of the IPI hotel construction as well as its “funding situation.”

According to a report, he added, IPI has already completed 60 percent of its hotel construction and so far has employed over 500 local employees.

“The commission chairman (Juan Sablan) is encouraging them to hire more local residents and provide more training for the employees of the casino,” Quitugua added.

Casino Commission Executive Director Edward Deleon Guerrero said it is not IPI’s legal responsibility to pay the workers, but they are encouraging the investor to “help resolve the issue while they move forward with their project.”

He added, “Workers must be paid regardless if they are legal workers or not, regardless if they are IPI’s direct employees or employees of the contractors. We have advised IPI to resolve the issue and pay the workers out of humanitarian considerations and IPI has agreed to do that.”

Commission Chairman Juan Sablan said “it is not the workers’ fault that they are in this situation so we are glad that IPI provides them food and housing and now they will provide them plane tickets too so they can go home. IPI is also offering to pay them some of their wages and that is a good gesture from IPI.”

During the meeting, the commissioners mentioned the sewerage problem at the casino facility in Garapan.

IPI officials said they are already addressing the issue and fixing the problem.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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