Reported labour disputes decreased in pandemic year – Gov’t

The Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) has indicated that despite the pandemic the number of labour disputes dealt by the department in 2020 has actually decreased from the previous year.

The labour department dealt with a total of 1,519 labour disputes last year involving 2,841 workers, a number that was actually 12 per cent lower than in the year prior, with DSAL even alleging that there has been a decreasing trend in labour conflicts.

Macau SAR unemployment rates reached record levels in 2020 as the pandemic wreaked havoc in the local tourism and gaming industry, going from 1.7 per cent in 2019 to 2.9 per cent by the end of the year.

In the same period, the unemployment rate for local residents also increased to 4 per cent, with the underemployment rate at 5.4 per cent.

Several local workers were also placed in paid or non-paid leave arrangements during last year as companies looked to reduce expenses, while the number of non-resident workers was reduced by almost 19,000 in just one year.

Of the 1,519 cases investigated in 2020, some 1,001 involved complaints related to outstanding wages and dismissals, covering 1,882 workers, numbers that when compared to the same period in 2019 decreased 14 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively, to 1,167 cases and 2,302 workers.

Just this month the New Macau Gaming Staff Rights Association forwarded several assistance requests to DSAL it received from more than a dozen dealers working in the same local satellite casino denouncing that their employers were forcing them to resign.

Last year several new labour legislation changes were also enforced, pertaining to labour relations, minimum wag, hiring of non-resident workers and the activity of employment agencies, with the department conducting almost 71 clarification sessions to inform employees and employers of the changes.