Filipino workers wage legal battle against shipyard - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Filipino workers wage legal battle against shipyard

Attorney Lori Mince Attorney Lori Mince

New Orleans, La. - Attorney Lori Mince is keeping an eye on developments in the investigation of the fire and explosion on the Black Elk Energy platform on November 16.

"I'm interested in the accident," said Mince. "I'm interested in whether those employees were working the sorts of hours that our clients tell us they were forced to work."

Mince is with a law firm representing a group of Filipino workers formerly employed by Grand Isle Shipyard.  GIS is the same company that provided much of the workforce on the platform the day of the fire and explosion.

Mince says, in a pending lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in November 2011, former GIS employees allege they were forced to work long hours for substandard pay and live in cramped living quarters.

"Our clients were living four men to a room. The room is 10 by 10 and they have four men living in it and yet each of the men was charged, as a deduction from their paycheck, 2 to 3 thousand dollars a month for those accommodations," said Mince. "Some of our clients have told us that when they complained about the deductions from their paycheck or when they complained about having to work such long hours, they were told that they would be deported."

Mince says deportation is a serious threat because what the workers earn in one hour in the U.S. is more than they can make in a whole day in the Philippines.

Lawyers for Grand Isle Shipyard have said the workers' claims are false and should be dismissed.

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