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Open the door?

Opinions are polarised on whether the city should be more open to non-resident workers

Attending a ceremony recently organised by the Macau Federation of Trade Unions, Yao Jian, Deputy Director of the Chinese Liaison Office, said Macau should be more open-minded about non-resident worker policies, which the city’s largest labour group found hard to swallow.
Addressing the recent discussions on allowing non-resident workers to work as professional drivers in the territory, the high-level representative of the Chinese Government said that by end-December it was important to ensure the employment rights and career development of local workers.
“[But we] must allow more people to compete for the future of Macau because competition facilitates development,” he added. “For the future of Macau, [we] must make an appropriate opening and compromises [in labour policies]; otherwise, there is no future for Macau.”
All industries in the city are basically open to non-local workers, who make up nearly 30 per cent of the employed population, excluding those jobs reserved exclusively for casino croupiers, pit supervisors and commercial drivers.
Amid highly vocal opposition from local workers, the business community has proposed for some time that such restrictions be lifted for professional drivers to ease the labour shortage.
Lee In Leong, president of the Association of Direct Cargo and Passenger Transportation for China, Hong Kong and Macau, said there was a “severe shortage” of commercial drivers in the city, as not many locals were wiling to become drivers, especially in the logistics sector. “There are now 350 trucks catering cross-border logistics services in Macau but [we have] only about 100 drivers,” said Mr. Lee, whose Association represents a group of logistics companies.
Tong Chak Sam, chairman of the Macau Federation of Transportation, an affiliate of the city’s largest labour group, said that some companies could not recruit or attract local workers with high pay cheques given the harsh nature of the job, namely long working hours and a below-average remuneration package.
“Albeit offering an average salary level, some big companies here don’t have difficulty in recruiting drivers because they have a comprehensive remuneration package to entice local drivers,” he said.
The full story can be read in this month’s issue of Macau Business magazine, available at newsstands or online at