Not possible for Gov’t to assess real number of residents under no-paid leave schemes – CE

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng expressed today (Tuesday) that it was not possible for authorities to assess the true number of residents currently under no-paid leave or temporary lay-off schemes.

Today at the Legislative Assembly (AL) to respon questions from legislators, the CE had been confronted by legislator Leong Sun Iok, who questioned if local authorities were providing the needed support to local residents currently under no paid leave schemes.

The general unemployment rate (2.9 per cent) and the unemployment rate of local residents (3.9 per cent) both increased slightly in the December 2020/ February 2021 period, with the number of unemployed rising by 600 to 11,500.

However, several associations and legislators have warned that official figures fail to reveal the extent of local workers who entered into non-paid leave or reduced wage schemes.

A recent survey conducted by the Macao Federation of Trade Unions (FAOM) stated that 55 per cent of the local employees surveyed reported that their company has adopted some kind of unpaid leave or care leave measures in the first three months of the year.

“When it comes to unemployed residents we have support policies and re-training programmes, however, we don’t have data on workers who are under lay-off schemes. I would like it if you could provide that information to us. Without it, we can’t study it. The government cannot obtain such data, those workers are still registered in the Social Security Fund,” Ho stated today.

The Chief Executive also considered that there were several job positions available in the city but that consisted of physically demanding or low paid positions that local residents were unwilling to do.

“How will a local office worker go to work in construction? Most job openings are connected to food and beverage or domestic work because they are positions that do not attract many local residents. We also have many building security positions and the salary is not that low. Who is interested in these functions?” Ho stated.

In March a meeting between unemployed construction workers and Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) representatives ended in an invasion of the department’s building in Areia Preta, with police authorities forced to disperse the workers and close the avenue.

According to Ho, there are almost 20,000 local construction workers currently in underemployment, with many aged between 50 to 60 years old, but that most of them specialised in finishing works, which are currently not in such high demand, while only non-resident workers mostly available for foundation works.

“If we fire non-residents in construction how will we finish those constructions? Many of the current constructions are not in the finishing phase […] Most integrated resorts projects are almost concluded. If there are no construction projects there are no jobs,” the CE noted.