Irresponsibility in labour affairs

Who does Shuen Ka Hung think he is to go public with the first nonsense that pops into his head? Who in the Macau government still permits discretionary attitudes that verge on xenophobia from a top official who insists on threatening the city’s development? Why is Fernando Chui Sai On’s administration silent while facing the complete silliness of the Labour Affairs Bureau’s decisions regarding the (lack of) strategy on hiring of imported manpower? And, finally, why does nobody question the fact that whichever government department wields its apparently discretionary power over the hiring of manpower, they do so as if there was a blank cheque waiting to be signed? The chief executive cannot and should not continue to pretend that this is not his responsibility. If Macau persists on endangering its development thanks to the blindness of government officials, the blame will always lie first with Mr Chui since he was not able to rein in his team. On this issue, Mr Chui has hesitated. He either did not want to, or did not know how to say that the buck stopped with him. His actions could have prevented what began as a silly case from becoming a trend that has already surpassed the limits of what is tolerable. The Labour Affairs Bureau lies through its teeth when it guarantees that there is enough local manpower to fill all necessary positions – it lies intentionally. The bureau lies and gets away with it because, apparently, nobody in Macau has the courage or the shame to get rid of these people. You want examples? There are dozens of them. Countless companies ask the bureau for workers and all are left empty handed or get just a small number of employees. On Cotai lots 5 and 6, Sands China recently asked for thousands of workers. Most of them didn’t even bother to show up. In the end, little more than 200 workers were accepted because more would be impossible. Many seemed to have been hired simply to permit the company to hire more competent people from outside the SAR’s borders. Perhaps tired of the nonsense, and just to make a point, it seems, the company asked for 20 workers willing to clean the washrooms. We understand the bitter humour in Sands China’s request because it wasn’t hard to predict its outcome. Not a single person showed any interest and not one hire was made. So, Mr Shuen, who will clean the washrooms? Who will serve the tables in restaurants whose clientele is not necessarily Chinese? Who will fill the posts for which some locals are not aware they need relevant skills? Previously, I have been critical of Sands China for delaying work on lots 5 and 6 alleging financial reasons, although it had filled its pockets from the company’s IPO and strong results in Macau. But I cannot disagree with the latest delay. Sands China is right because, when it comes to these matters, we are in the hands of civil servants who seem to have their own agenda. Of course, Sands is not alone. Galaxy makes similar complaints. As does Ponte 16. Right across the business spectrum, they all do. There is no policy for importing labour. There are no ideas, no solutions nor plans, not even the right knowledge of our exact needs or the kind of labour we have to offer. If this wasn’t such a serious problem, we would be laughing about how ridiculous it is. One final piece of advice to Mr Shuen: to publicly say that imported workers should accept the rules or go home is a gross insult to all those workers who have greatly contributed to the development of Macau. Don’t forget, Mr Shuen, that more than half of the imported labour population has come from the mainland and, supposedly, they are your compatriots – despite the indifferent treatment you seem to reserve for them. Growing importance of companies with a heart We are happy to note that, in the past few months, many companies have keenly embraced their social corporate responsibilities. Macau Business was one of the first media companies to create initiatives to bring together companies and social causes, much as the Chinese-language Macau Daily has done for many years with its charity “Walk for a Million”. The three editions of our golf tournament have contributed MOP1.5 million (US$187,500) to a number of charity institutions. That money is donated by private entities and without asking the government for a cent. This year, we decided to take it further and expand the event to two days and, for the first time, bring together both golf courses – the Macau Golf and Country Club and Caesars. We were the first to have all the gaming operators – all of whom have increased their support of public causes – at a single event, as well as many others from banking, services and other sectors. The battle to bring the benefits of Macau’s development to all its citizens is not yet over. There are still companies that resist. They feel they should be here to reap the greatest benefits and please their shareholders. That thinking has no place in Macau and we strongly advise any corporate citizen thinking along those lines to radically change their position. From a business perspective, the greatest reward from the growth of a company comes from the public’s recognition of its positive role in improving the society in which it operates.