More than 100 employees awaiting past wages and damages owed them by the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino are living on rationed food and have been without power since Friday when service to the barracks they’ve been living in at the hotel was cut off by the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.
The casino at the property has been shut down since September 2015 and in March this year, the island’s largest hotel, announced a “temporary closure.” Since then, employees affected by the closures have been living in barracks at the hotel and surviving on what little resources they have. Due to the extreme heat inside of the barracks, they are sleeping in tents underneath makeshift canopies, and on Friday were dealt another blow when power to the barracks was cut by the utilities company, which Tinian Dynasty owes $1.3 million.
Glicerio Arago, the Philippine honorary consul to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), said the employees are owed back-pay from their employer for the last eight pay periods. Arago has urged them to leave, but said because the affected employees don’t have status, and haven’t since 2014, they can’t get new jobs there, and that because some of them have kids there and others want to stay until they receive what they’re owed, they remain on the island. Renewals for worker visas were filed by the employees but U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied them and they continued working at the property while Dynasty filed an appeal, said Arago. He said that the current fuel they are using for a generator will only last for a week, which means the one-month supply of meat they have will spoil.
Arago said that they are arranging airfare for them with the help of either Hong Kong Entertainment, the Dynasty hotel’s new investor, or the Philippine government, and that “…we are waiting for a list for those who would be willing to leave,” according to the Saipan Tribune. He added, “Rest assured those back wages will be sent to the right party when the decisions comes or when there is final decision on the matter.”
Meanwhile, since the power shutdown, businesses and community groups have been solicited to donate goods to ship to Tinian. Assistance is also being provided by the Tinian Mayor’s office and various other local organizations, such as the Salvation Army and the Red Cross. Tinian Mayor Joey San Nicolas said the Tinian Marianas Lions Club and United Filipino Association are accepting donations for those workers affected as well.
The Marianas Variety reports that on Monday it was told that Sterling Lundgren, who oversees the premises of the hotel and casino, met with the affected workers and relayed to them that the company planning to acquire Dynasty, Tinian Entertainment Corp, is willing to provide those who wish to return to their respective home countries with plane tickets.