In the Commonwealth Of The Northern Mariana Islands, casino operator Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited has declared that the first phase of its new Imperial Pacific Resort And Hotel Saipan is scheduled to open “in the first quarter of 2017”.

Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited had previously stated that the new Saipan venue would open “by 2017 Chinese New Year”, which begins from January 28, but it used a Wednesday filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to reveal that this target for the $500 million development had been pushed back with a “soft opening” now expected before the end of March.

Cai Lingli, Executive Director for Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited, declared that construction had been “progressing smoothly with over 2,000 workers working around-the-clock to ensure early completion” while previous filings explained that the 350-suite Saipan venue designed by architectural practice Steelman Partners is set to feature 200 to 300 gaming tables along with 300 to 400 slots.

Regarding some of the crews that have been helping to build the Imperial Pacific Resort And Hotel Saipan near the town of Garapan, the Marianas Variety newspaper yesterday reported that a group of workers who last month staged a public protest over unpaid wages had received their cash and left the island.

The revelation concerning the 146 employees of subcontractor Sino Great Wall International Engineering Company Limited reportedly came from Edith Deleon Guerrero, Labor Department Secretary for the Commonwealth Of The Northern Mariana Islands, who moreover explained that her department had been diligently monitoring the situation since the December 16 protest.

“The employees received their pay in the morning and then by mid-afternoon they departed the Commonwealth Of The Northern Mariana Islands,” Deleon Guerrero told the newspaper. “The Labor Department visited the lodgings of the workers at the end of last week and found no remaining workers as of December 26.”

Deleon Guerrero reportedly detailed that the protesting Chinese workers, who alleged that Sino Great Wall International Engineering Company Limited had missed three pay periods, began being fully compensated from December 19 with the entire group satisfied by the end of the following week.

“[The] Commonwealth Of The Northern Mariana Islands Labor Department will continue to work hard to protect the rights of employees in all issues involving their employment,” Deleon Guerrero told the Marianas Variety. “We will continue to build strength in our enforcement capacity pursuant to Northern Mariana Islands Administrative Code Chapter 80 Labor Department Employment Rules And Regulations. This is the rule we follow and is applicable to all businesses in the Commonwealth Of The Northern Mariana Islands regardless of capitalization size, industry and/or sector, foreign or local owned. The rule we follow does not differentiate any of these, hence it is the rule that the Commonwealth Of The Northern Mariana Islands Labor Department is mandated to enforce and must follow, nothing else.”

However, Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited, which is also responsible for the nearby Best Sunshine Live casino via its Best Sunshine International Limited subsidiary, could soon be involved in a second pay dispute after 30 workers of interior design subcontractor Suzhou Gold Mantis Construction Decoration Company Limited reportedly staged a peaceful protest yesterday to demand their Chinese New Year bonus.

The Marianas Variety reported that the protesting employees, who have been working on the Imperial Pacific Resort And Hotel Saipan, are unhappy that they will not be receiving a holiday bonus because they have elected to temporarily return home for the holidays in contrast to 370 remaining compatriots who are set to be given the benefit.

“Because we understand that they want to celebrate the Chinese New Year with their families, we allowed them to go on vacation,” Hu Rongyu, Vice-President for Suzhou Gold Mantis Construction Decoration Company Limited, told the newspaper. “Now those who want to leave are protesting and are demanding the same bonus. We pay them properly and we agreed to negotiate.”

Hu reportedly told the newspaper that his firm had already agreed to pay the airfare for any worker that wanted to return to China for the holidays and would compensate the striking employees at the normal daily rate for the time they had spent protesting.

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