The Washington Post reported Wednesday that hundreds of Filipino workers at a U.S. military base on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia are unable to leave due to a pay dispute between a U.S. contractor and the Philippine government.

The Post said the Philippines demanded in 2020 that wages be raised to the U.S. federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, while workers said many were still being paid $5.25 per hour.

The report said the contractor, Kellogg Brown & Root, had chartered flights between the Camp Thunder Cove base — “a highly strategic American outpost that supports U.S. Navy and Air Force operations” — and the Philippines about every three months, but that the flights were suspended this year.

The Post said Kellogg Brown & Root told the newspaper in statements that the suspension was not related to a wage dispute, but that the flights were canceled in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and due to a lack of demand.

The report cited several workers saying they were reluctant to fly back to the Philippines because of fears they would not be allowed to return if the wage dispute persisted. 

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