Most Macau casino workers were willing to accept their respective employer’s’ incentives to stay away from the workplace, a situation now made mandatory via a week-long shutdown of the city’s gaming floors to help stop community transmission of Covid-19, said separately gaming labour activists Stephen Lao Ka Weng and Cloee Chao in comments to GGRAsia.
A number of employers are currently offering what is sometimes called locally “7+1″. Under such an arrangement, casino staff that take seven days of leave – whether paid or unpaid – can typically be offered an additional single day of paid leave.
Some of the schemes had already been in use – on an opt-in basis – amid an earlier effort reported 10 days ago, to cut community transmission of Covid-19. Prior to that, staff had been offered some stay-away incentives amid the stop-start nature of tourism demand linked to Covid-19 alerts in mainland China, and in Macau.
“Many workers find these incentives acceptable” in the current circumstances, said Ms Chao, who heads labour group New Macau Gaming Staff Rights Association. Mr Lao, who leads another gaming labour group, Power of the Macao Gaming Association, said that he had similar feedback from casino-worker members.
Mr Lao added that another option available for some casino workers was to help either at their employer’s on-site nucleic acid test (NAT) station; or in “security work; or in hotel services”.
Nonetheless, both labour representatives said many members of their respective labour groups were anxious about what will happen at the end of the announced shutdown period, and whether further official steps to counter Covid-19 might put in doubt the sustainability of casino operators’ current staff-remuneration terms and holiday arrangements.
“Most casino workers do not have many complaints about the special stay-home incentive,” Mr Lao said.
But he added: “Many fear that the current rights that they have will diminish some day as their employers have been incessantly burning cash. They are afraid these rights will be gone once the gaming companies secure their new concessions, and they fear they might relive what had happened in 2008, when there were a lot of lay-offs and various labour issues surfaced.”
He was referring first to a recent quarterly trend of operators recording negative earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA); second to a new tender process for gaming rights covering a 10-year period after December this year. That process is likely to start soon, accoring to commentary from investment analysts covering the Macau industry. Third, Mr Lao was referring to the global financial crisis encompassing 2008, and which had a knock-on effect for the Macau casino sector.
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