Eleven people a Macau labour group claims are employees of Macau casino operator Sands China Ltd filed on Thursday complaints to the city’s Labour Affairs Bureau that they had been unable to take any Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays as annual leave for a full year, which they claim is damaging the quality of their family life.
The complainants were accompanied by representatives from local labour group Macau Gaming Enterprise Staff’s Association, an affiliate of the traditionalist body known as the Federation of Trade Unions. Although under Macau law, labour unions and labour lobbying groups are not recognised parties to workplace disputes, the Federation itself is commonly consulted by the Macau government.
Choi Kam Fu, director of the affiliate association, told local media on the sidelines of the visit to the labour bureau, that the gaming workers had complained of being barred from taking any Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays as annual leave for this year, an issue that affected their “family time” arrangements.
“We’ve received complaints regarding this problem [of annual leave policy] since the end of last year,” Mr Choi said, noting that most of the workers that filed the complaints on Thursday, were working in gaming operations, either as dealers or pit managers.
“Basically the employees understand that there are certain days that are not available to take during specific times, such as the Labour Day holiday, the National Day holiday and even in summertime, or Chinese New Year when there is more visitor traffic,” Mr Choi told media, referring first to local holidays in May and October respectively. “They are willing to comply with such a condition,” he added.
“But we’re speaking of times like April, or the weeks that follow the [Labour Day] holiday in May: why can the employees not take Fridays to Sundays off during that period?” Mr Choi stated.
The labour official said he also relayed to the labour bureau some worker complaints about recent “confusing” shift arrangements at Sands China, which affected mostly workers in gaming operations.
“Before, they used to have eight to nine [types] of shift, a system that has been implemented for some time. But recently the company has issued a notice saying they are implementing four additional [types of] shift; in total 12 to 13 shifts,” Mr Choi explained.
“The more serious cases that have been presented to us,” said the labour official, was where – for what is known as a “shift table” assigned to a specific dealer – there were five to six different work time slots – in terms of start and finish – in the course of just two weeks.
“This is quite hard for the workers to adapt to, and it also affects their rest time,” Mr Choi said.
The labour group spokesman claimed that his association had received complaints on annual leave policy and shift arrangements from “over 500” employees of Sands China.
GGRAsia approached Sands China for comment on the substance of the complaints , but had not received a reply by the time the story went online.
Macau Gaming Enterprise Staff’s Association said the reason it directed the workers’ complaints to the Labour Affairs Bureau was to seek the local government’s help in “coordinating with the firm” for better holiday policy and shift arrangement for workers.
“We have been in touch with the company [Sands China] before and reflected the workers’ problems, but we still did not see much improvement so far,” Mr Choi told media.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China