Several Macau gaming labour representatives are calling for the city’s six casino operators to join the voluntary pension scheme for local employees implemented by the Macau government. They say it would give the workers more, and safer, options for their pension provision.
One of the labour representatives said the city’s government should use as leverage the fact that the casino operators’ current gaming rights will expire on various dates in either 2020 or 2022, and they will be seeking to refresh them.
The labour group known as Power of the Macao Gaming Association; and Macau legislator Leong Sun Iok, who is from traditionalist workers’ group Macau Federation of Trade Unions, want local casino firms to opt in to the programme, known as the non-mandatory central provident fund.
“The six casino operators have different pension schemes…but there are practices that… employees – upon ‘reasonable dismissal’ – will not get a single cent of the employers’ contribution to their pension scheme,” said Lei Iok Po, director of Power of the Macao Gaming Association, in comments to GGRAsia.
“In that sense, the government’s provident fund scheme is better because the employee can obtain the employer’s contribution in any scenario of a labour contract termination,” Mr Lei added. But he further noted: “The disadvantage with the government scheme is that workers can only withdraw their funds [pension money] at 65 years old.”
The latest rules on the Macau government’s non-mandatory provident fund scheme came into effect on January 1 this year. According to the rules, employers and employees of participating companies should respectively contribute 5 percent of the basic monthly salary of the employee to the fund; both parties can also contribute to the fund at a higher rate as long as they notify the fund management entity.
Un Hoi Cheng, vice president of the administrative committee of the Social Security Fund, said on Wednesday that the government would continue to communicate with more companies, including gaming companies, in the hope of seeing more private-sector participation in the non-mandatory provident scheme. Ms Un was speaking at a forum discussing the scheme, hosted by a group affiliated to the Federation of Trade Unions.
“The withdrawal limitation for the non-mandatory provident fund [at 65 years old] is clearly a disadvantage. But we learnt that the casino operators are quite positive towards this provident fund scheme, and they have held some explanatory sessions to their workers on the scheme before,” Mr Leong of the Federation of Trade Unions remarked to us in a phone interview. He has also attended the Wednesday forum.
“We do hope that the casino operators can join the provident fund scheme, so that the workers have more choices in placing their money for their pension fund. And that casinos’ act will also inspire other companies to follow,” Mr Leong added.
As explained by Ms Un on Wednesday, the Social Security Fund has so far received nearly 9,000 individual applications to join the non-mandatory provident scheme, plus another 44 corporate applications to join it.
“We actually think that the required contribution rate at 5 percent is too low – it can be up to 7 percent or 8 percent [for both employer and employees], a level that we think the workers don’t mind paying and can better compensate workers for the inflation seen in past 10 years or so,” said the Power of the Macao gaming’s Mr Lei in his comments to us.
“To protect workers’ rights, the Macau government definitely should have more say in its requirements on how the contribution should work for the provident fund scheme…especially when we are talking of the fact that the Macau gaming concessions will be refreshed,” Mr Lei added.
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”I would expect that there might be some clearly-defined criteria … and I’m supportive of a more clearly-defined roadmap for the [gaming] industry”
Co-chairperson and executive director of Macau casino operator MGM China