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H-2B workers sue IPI, recruiter

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THREE construction workers from Turkey, on behalf of 25 other H-2B workers, filed a complaint against Imperial Pacific International and IDS Development Management &  Consultancy for not paying them the minimum wage and overtime as well as their salaries since Oct. 1, and for forcing them to eat Chinese food. They are also accusing the plaintiffs of retaliation for the workers’ protest actions.

Ozcan Genc, Hasan Gokce and Suleyman Kos filed the complaint in the District Court for NMI on Nov. 20, 2020 through the law firm, Banes Horey Berman & Miller LLC.

According to the plaintiffs, co-defendant IDS Development Management &  Consultancy is a company registered in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. “IDS recruits workers in Turkey and the Middle East and manages them at construction projects worldwide. At all relevant times it had representatives at the Imperial Palace construction site in Saipan,” the plaintiffs stated.

Genc, Gokce and Kos filed the complaint “on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated” H-2B workers who were recruited from Turkey. They are master plumbers, carpenters, electricians, construction workers and foremen who were recruited in 2019.

The complainants said they were promised above minimum wage, substantial overtime pay, and round-trip tickets.

IPI also promised the Turkish workers that it would hire a cook who could prepare the kind of food suited for them, the complaint stated.

Genc, a foreman and welding team leader, said IPI changed his title to carpenter and promised him a salary of $21,840 a year. Gokce, a plumbing foreman, said he was given the title plumber and was also promised $21,840 per annum.

Kos, an electrician, was promoted to electrical foreman and was also promised the same salary.

The Turkish workers, who said they had to borrow money from friends and relatives for their travel expenses, allege that IPI broke its promise to hire a cook that specializes in Turkish food.

They said the meals IPI gave them were Chinese food that are “practically inedible” for Turkish people like them so they ended up buying their own food and cooking for themselves.

In June 2020, they said their work hours were drastically cut and all overtime work was eliminated.

They said IPI  did not provide them pay stubs so they did not see the deductions made from their salaries.

They added that health insurance premiums were deducted from their paycheck, but when they got sick and went to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. they were told that their health insurance coverage had been suspended for nonpayment of premiums.

The delays in payroll, the complainants said, started on June 19, 2020.

They said they stopped work on Sept. 11, 2020 in protest and stayed at their barracks. During the three-week stop-work protest, the complainants said IPI stopped providing them with drinking water and internet services. In October 2020, they said, IPI stopped their access to company vehicles.

The delays in payrolls have continued, the complainants said, and since Oct. 1, IPI has not paid them at all.

Variety was unable to get a comment from IPI.

 

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