A group of Macau gaming workers from Asian casino developer and operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd on Thursday submitted a petition to the company demanding more of the company’s ‘high-duty’ dealers in Macau be promoted to pit supervisor positions.
The petition was organised by labour activist group Forefront of Macao Gaming. It claimed to have collected more than 300 signatures from casino workers at Melco Crown’s operations in Macau, according to several media reports.
Melco Crown operates two casinos in Macau, namely at Altira Macau (pictured) and City of Dreams Macau. The firm also operates City of Dreams Manila, in the Philippines, and has a 60-percent stake in casino resort Studio City. The latter is due to open in Macau’s Cotai district on October 27.
The position of ‘high-duty’ dealer refers to a role with duties between that of ordinary dealer and of pit supervisor. The ‘high-duty’ dealer sometimes performs dealer-related tasks and on other occasions is asked by management to work as a pit supervisor. According to Forefront of Macao Gaming, ‘high-duty’ dealers are basically paid the same as a normal dealer, receiving an extra daily allowance below MOP100 (US$12.5) when called to perform supervisor duties.
Forefront of Macao Gaming claimed Melco Crown had promised to promote rapidly at least 25 percent of its 1,000 ‘high duty’ dealers to pit supervisors. But until now, the firm allegedly had promoted fewer than 10 percent of such dealers, according to labour activist group leader Ieong Man Teng.
“The operator has openly promised – to those joining them to become dealers – that 25 percent of all staff members will be promoted. However, we only see less than 100 ['high-duty' dealers] promoted,” Mr Ieong said, quoted by public broadcaster TDM.
In a statement quoted by Rádio Macau, Melco Crown said staff promotions were based on performance and that the process was transparent. The firm reportedly added that the opening of Studio City would generate new promotion opportunities, but – as quoted by Rádio Macau – Melco Crown stressed that would ultimately depend on the business environment and the number of new-to-market live gaming tables granted by the Macau government to the new property.
Mr Ieong said some ‘high-duty’ dealers had been waiting for more than three years to be promoted to pit supervisors.
Melco Crown earlier this month announced net income for the second quarter of 2015 had fallen 83 percent year-on-year, primarily due to a drop in gross gaming revenue in Macau. Management at the time announced US$50 million of annualised cost saving initiatives going into the second half of the year, mostly relating to staff costs, marketing and central costs. A few days later, Reuters news agency reported that City of Dreams Manila was suspending 100 workers as a cost-cutting measure.
In Macau, the government has a policy of reserving casino dealer jobs for Macau identity card holders. Some analysts covering the gaming industry say that makes it harder for casino operators to promote dealers to higher positions, since firms might struggle to find replacements among Macau’s limited pool of available labour. The city’s unemployment rate stood at just 1.8 percent during the second quarter of 2015 – considered full employment by international standards.
Macau’s gaming industry saw 655 fewer people working as casino dealers market wide in the 12 months ended June 30, according to official data. Macau dealers enjoyed a 6 percent rise in monthly average earnings during that period, to MOP18,580, government statistics also show.
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