Two Macau gaming labour groups have told GGRAsia they are hopeful the industry’s casino-floor operations staff can receive a pay rise in 2024, as the local industry continues to recover from the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic. One representative thought the odds of a pay award were good, especially after Lei Wai Nong, Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, publicly called recently at the Legislative Assembly, for the city’s operators to take such a step.
Lei Iok Po, director of labour group Power of Macau Gaming, told GGRAsia: “Workers generally feel quite positive that it [a pay rise] will happen” next year.
The practice of having a “pay hike was paused for almost three years due to Covid-19 disruptions,” noted Mr Lei.
He added: “Now, as the government has even made a call for the casino operators to raise staff pay, I think it is quite likely that we will see a pay rise by at least some 2 percent in 2024, plus the bonuses”. The latter was a reference to some discretionary awards the Macau gaming industry continued to make to workers even during the downturn of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Secretary Lei had cited a recent survey said to cover the whole of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and which referred to there being scope for salary improvements across that urban cluster. Mr Lei mentioned in particular there was room for casino operators – as private-sector companies – to increase salaries “by 2 percent to 3 percent”.
The average monthly wage of Macau full-time gaming sector workers, as of June, was MOP24,730 (US$3,072), an amount 6.3 percent higher than the same month a year ago, according to the latest “Survey on Manpower Needs and Wages” for the industry published by Statistics and Census Service in August.
The June 2023 average was however only 0.2 percent up on the MOP24,680 average in June 2019, i.e., the trading year immediately before the pandemic.
Monthly wage tallies reported by the statistics service exclude discretionary bonuses.
Cloee Chao Sao Fong, head of local gaming labour activist group New Macau Gaming Staff Rights Association, told GGRAsia she hoped the casino operators could consider a “meaningful” pay rise in the year to come, beyond “just 1 or 2 percent”, as the sector had seen a recovery in business since the start of this year.
“Our workers would even suggest that the employers should increase our pay by 5 percent [for 2024],” said Ms Chao. She added a reason for that demand was that gaming sector workers had seen their pay shrink amid the Covid-19 crisis, with the extent of discretionary bonuses also affected in some cases.
Reallocation of staff from gaming to other departments during the crisis meant, said Ms Chao, that some gaming-operations departments “now have a bigger workload,” with “one person is taking up the job of two to three people, compared to pre-Covid times,” she suggested. This burden should be recognised in terms of compensation, she stated.
The number of full-time Macau gaming sector workers in the second quarter declined 3.5 percent year-on-year to 51,693. In the quarter, there were 23,675 employed as table game dealers: 1.7 percent fewer, compared to the same period in 2022.
In the second quarter of 2019, Macau had 57,840 full-time gaming sector employees, including 25,213 dealers.
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