Iron rice bowl cracking

The city’s casino workers’ union, Forefront of Macau Gaming, told us that starting from November some of its members have already realised that unpaid leave has been encouraged amongst gaming table workers – namely, croupiers, supervisors and pit managers. Macau’s influential traditionalist labour union, the Federation of Trade Unions, also reports similar accounts by their casino worker members.
“In November, we had already received reports from our members that City of Dreams [operated by Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd] had posted notices informing croupiers that they could ask for unpaid leave”, Forefront of Macau Gaming’s vice-director Lei Kuok Keong said. “Unpaid leave policy is always there with all casino operators here but we felt that it has actually been more actively encouraged now”.
“The latest example is MGM Macau, which recently issued a notice that suggests croupiers can ask for unpaid leave – the longest being two weeks – from January to March next year”, Mr. Lei said. “In these months the Chinese New Year holiday is an exception, though, as the vacation’s a peak period for visitors coming.”
“For the members’ feedback on unpaid leave so far, we’re not very worried as the policy is meant as a proposal, and appears to be of a provisional nature”, Mr. Lei from Forefront of Macau Gaming added. “But our concern is how this policy will further evolve when the casinos face even harsher business conditions in the months following the Chinese New Year vacation, and whether any cost control measures from the operators’ side will affect workers”.
According to official data, Macau’s gross gaming revenue dropped 19.6 per cent year-on-year to MOP24.3 billion in November, making it the sixth straight month in a row’s decline against the backdrop of visa restrictions, anti-graft initiatives from the Beijing Government and tighter credit in mainland China.
“We’ve confirmed with our members that the unpaid leave is just a policy on a voluntary basis”, Federation of Trade Union’s vice-director Leong Sun Iok told Business Daily. “Still, we believe that it has to do with the adjustment stage that the gaming revenue growth has entered into now.”
The deepest fear that the casino workers have is the re-occurrence of compulsory unpaid leave, which some of them experienced in 2008, Mr. Leong said.
The casino industry saw its gaming revenue decline from December 2008 to June 2009 as a result of the financial crisis but it recovered the following month with a year-on-year growth of 3.1 per cent.
In a press release issued on Saturday, the Labour Affairs Bureau noted that it has not received any enquiries or complaints related to unpaid leave lodged by casino workers.