More than 200 workers dismissed by travel agencies due to new minimum wage bill – Sector rep

The chairman of the Travel Industry Council of Macau, Andy Wu Keng Kuong, has indicated that more than 200 workers from at least three travel agencies have been made redundant because of the minimum wage law that comes into force on November 1.

The city’s first-ever overall minimum wage law will take effect on November 1, when all employees in the private sector – except domestic helpers and disabled workers – to be covered by a statutory minimum wage of MOP32 (US$4) per hour, or MOP256 a day/MOP6,656 a month.

The sector representative expressed that the dismissed workers, employed as tour guides and drivers, earned a base salary between MOP2,000 and MOP3,000, plus commissions for the service provided, meaning that the agencies would have to ‘double’ their salary to match the MOP6,656 monthly minimum wage.

Wu also warned that thousands of travel agency workers could soon lose their jobs due to the new legislation, with the sector already badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The matter prompted the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) to issue a statement expressing he department was highly concerned about the reported dismissal of employees by travel agencies and that will continue to follow up on the incident. 

According to DSAL, if an enterprise has to terminate its working relationship with an employee due to the economic environment or its own operating conditions, it is an unreasonable termination of the labour contract by the employer, and the employee must be paid dismissal compensation in accordance with labour regulations.

Labour authorities added that they have provided employment support services for tour guides and drivers who have been more affected by the epidemic, including re-training programmes assisting them to find different employment and a subsidised local tour scheme.

The local unemployment rate has increased steadily since January of this year due to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the general unemployment rate and the unemployment rate of local residents for the third quarter of this year reaching, 2.9 per cent and 4.1 per cent, respectively.

The largest reduction in employees was reported in the Gaming & Junket Activities and Real Estate & Business Activities sectors, according to Statistics and Census Bureau (DSEC) data.