Around 300 Macau casino workers took to the streets on May 1, public broadcaster TDM reported.
The police said a total of 1,800 people participated in street protests on May 1 in Macau, covering a wide range of issues, including housing and education. There were around a dozen of different rallies.
May 1, which in Macau is known as Labour Day, has become associated in recent years with street protests on a range of social issues.
Aside from higher salaries, gaming workers attending Friday’s protests reportedly also demanded tighter restrictions on imported labour in the gaming sector.
They were additionally quoted as accusing Macau’s gaming operators of taking steps to exert stricter control over casino dealers in order to make it easier to dismiss them.
According to labour activist group Forefront of Macao Gaming, which organised one of the rallies on May 1, casinos have increased the number of what it termed “warning letters” issued to workers for what it described as minor mistakes. Forefront of Macao Gaming says there is a two-stage warning system for casino workers – involving a first and then second warning letter. It claims that hundreds of such second warning letters are now being issued, meaning that on any given day dozens of croupiers could be “technically” eligible for the sack.
SJM Holdings Ltd chief executive Ambrose So Shu Fai last week denied such practice. In a meeting earlier this month with Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac, the city’s six gaming operators had stated that the number of warning letters issued between January and April this year had dropped between 25 percent and 40 percent compared to the same period a year earlier.
Labour protests from workers across the community are common in Macau on Labour Day. But casino employees are becoming increasingly vocal. Last year gaming workers staged several protests, demanding pay raises and improvements in working and promotion policies. The peak of the protests was a march targeting the six Macau gaming operators in August – organisers at the time estimated that about 7,000 people participated in the demonstration, although police put the attendance at around 1,400 people.
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"The increased focus we can now bring to our gaming and amusement business [after a spin-off of the firm's cash-handling product business] will bring us closer to the customer as we align our offerings more directly with their needs"
Global president of casino equipment supplier SuzoHapp