Hundreds of gaming workers went out on the streets yesterday, urging the six local gaming operators to improve employee remuneration.
Organised by the New Macau Gaming Professionals Association (NMGPA), the President of the group, Cloee Chao, indicated that the protestors were seeking assistance from the MSAR Government to monitor local gaming corporations, voicing the desire for a salary increase of 5 per cent.
Chao said they are also seeking help from lawmakers in order to express their demands in the legislative assembly (AL).
“We wish the trade union law will be passed as soon as possible so we won’t need to go on the streets to demand our deserved benefits in future,” she said following submission of the petition to the government.
She revealed that signatures would be gathered from employees working under all local gaming operators if demands were not met by Chinese New Year – at the end of this month.
According to Chao, around 300 demonstrators participated in yesterday’s protest, noting that the number had met their expectations, given that most are members of the NMGPA.
When asked about the negative opinions within society that the remuneration of gaming workers should not be compared to those of civil servants, she said it is not reasonable.
“The penalties for gaming workers for stealing is the same as that for civil servants,” said Chao. “So if civil servants have their salaries increased every year, then dealers cannot have the same benefits?”
The vice head of Love Macau Association, Lei Man Chao, said that although gaming revenue has decreased in recent years, local gaming operators are still making profits.
“If they [gaming operators] could increase our salaries in 2015 when the revenue was lowest, I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t improve the benefits now,” said Lei.
Dedication should be rewarded
Protesters who are currently working as dealers for Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) and Galaxy Entertainment Group said inflation is growing, while their salaries have been stagnant for the past year.
“We did not receive the entire bonus, unlike other corporations,” revealed a dealer from Galaxy Entertainment. “At least they should add MOP1,000 more to our salaries according to the current rate.”
Another protester said their salary rate should be higher than the rate enjoyed by civil servants.
“The credit of making Macau prosper should be [attributed to] us,” opined the protester, surnamed Lao. “It’s really hard for us because our job has affected our family; we don’t even dare turn on the faucet once we get home because we don’t want to wake our family up in the middle of the night,” said Lao, lamenting the shift work gaming workers undergo.
Stay vigilant in times of peace
Directly elected legislator Au Kam San delivered a speech prior to the protest in Tap Seac Square, saying that gaming workers should stay vigilant despite the fact that currently non-resident workers are not allowed to work as croupiers.
“There are a few industries in the city – construction, [public transportation] drivers and gaming. As one can see, the construction sector has perished since the allowance of non-resident workers working in the sector,” the legislator said. “We should protect the gaming and driving [public transportation] sectors from allowing non-resident workers.”
Chao also said non-resident workers occupy more than half of non-gaming positions, indicating that it is contradictory to what the government has always said: that it is prioritising local residents.
Differences over the past three years
Speaking to Business Daily prior to the protest, Chao (the NMGPA president) revealed that with the exception of some employees from Sands Macau workers for the other five local gaming operators did not receive any upward adjustment in their salaries in 2016.
Since the year 2014 other benefits had been cut by the corporations, she pointed out.
“Before, there were Christmas parties and gifts were given,” said Chao. “But now there are none of those benefits anymore.”
According to Chao, the gaming operators, with the exception of Sands, are reducing their expenses. She believes Sands Macau is comparatively more successful in stabilising its operation in the mass market area, as well as its demand for labour operating non-gaming areas, with less impact on its employees’ remuneration.
Meanwhile, former Director of Forefront of Macau Gaming, Ieong Man Teng, remarked that in comparison with the year 2014 it is more prominent to find reductions in benefits rather than an unchanged salary rate.
“Things like meals for employees are becoming worse in some companies,” Ieong told Business Daily. “They reduce their expenses by deducting the benefits for workers they once had.”
With stabilised market growth, Ieong further opined that the positive results should be shared among the workers.