Macau casino workers have named better holiday rights as their most-desired improvement to workplace benefits, according to an August survey. The results of the survey have been sent to Macau’s Chief Executive-elect Ho Iat Seng, said on Friday a local gaming-labour activist group that organised the poll. Mr Ho is to take office as Macau’s new leader on December 20.
The activist group, New Macau Gaming Staff Rights Association, briefed local media on Friday about the survey. It was conducted from August 3 to August 7, via a questionnaire distributed to local gaming staff through the Chinese social media platform WeChat, said the group.
Jeremy Lei Man Chao, vice-director of the labour activist group, said the poll garnered 7,235 valid responses from a sample of more than 10,000 workers approached. They were said to be employed across an aggregate of 20 Macau casino properties. Respondents were mostly working in either casino operations, security, or cleaning departments, according to Mr Lei.
Out of 12 topics relating to worker benefits mentioned by the group in its survey, respondents were asked to tick a maximum of three topics they would like the labour group to raise with Macau’s leader-in-waiting.
The 12 topics were: improved holiday rights; salary increases; enforcement of smoking-control policy; imported-labour policy; provident fund coverage; and labour law amendments.
The top-three topics for respondents were – in descending order – “gaming staff should be able to enjoy the same holiday rights as civil servants”; “gaming companies should exercise a five-working-days-per-week programme for workers”; and the importance of a “rigorous smoking-control policy for safeguarding workers’ health”, according to the labour group.
“From the results, it is actually quite a surprise to us that most respondents have chosen topics related to a healthy working environment, rather than salary increments or imported-labour policy,” Mr Lei told the media.
The labour group’s representatives reckoned that the survey result reflected that gaming staff – especially those that were entry-level gaming operations workers, and worked on shifts – were dissatisfied with industry policies regarding weekly rest periods, annual-leave rules, and the working environment.
“Smoking-control violation is still a serious problem…the complaints that we always receive are mostly from the gaming workers that are employed at smaller casinos where they [venue management] did not install up-to-standard smoking lounges; and also [from] those that work in VIP gaming rooms,” said Cloee Chao, director of New Macau Gaming Staff Rights Association.
“We met with Mr Ho’s [Ho Iat Seng's] campaign office and delivered him the survey results [in early August],” Ms Chao added. She was referring to a period prior to the new leader’s election. He was the only candidate, and was chosen by a 400-strong committee on August 25, garnering 98 percent of the vote.
“Since the new chief executive would be handling the retender for Macau casino gaming rights, it is a good opportunity to tell him what the workers would want the government to consider [when negotiating the retender terms],” Ms Chao said.
The current six gaming licences are to expire in 2022.
Mr Ho, a local businessman and former president of Macau’s Legistive Assembly, has no direct link with the city’s gaming businesses. He has not publicly commented in detail so far about the likely future direction for the city’s gaming industry.
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