Macau Casino Workers Plan Protest

Two Macau casino labor groups are gearing up for a May 1 Labor Day protest. Workers want higher salaries, wage parity, tighter restrictions on imported employees, and implementation of a full smoking ban they won in a similar protest last year.

Workers demands could shrink operator margins

Casino workers in Macau will take to the streets May 1 to protest what they say are unsatisfactory working conditions.

The Macau Gaming Enterprises Staff Association, which is affiliated with the 70,000-member Macau Federation of Trade Unions, will stage a protest on the city’s Labor Day. Another group called the Gaming Employees Advance Association will also march; that group’s president, Willis Chen told the Jornal Tribuna de Macau that about 1,000 people will join the rally to air their grievances.

The workers say gaming operators give preferential treatment to imported workers, paying them higher wages and promoting them more often. In particular, the recently established association will demand that the government prohibit operators from hiring imported labor as gaming table dealers. A ban already exists, but gaming workers want it “enshrined in a statute,” according to GGRAsia.

Chen said his group also want better compensation for people working night shifts, fairer policies on shift work, and more employee breaks.

Union Gaming Research says further accommodations for casino workers may result in “some level of margin degradation.” With gross gaming revenue down 37 percent in the first quarter, they also wondered “how much longer operators will play along if trends don’t start to improve.”

Last Labor Day in Macau, casino employees staged several protests; Macau Business Daily calls the upcoming demonstration “Occupy Summer II.” The publication said that better working conditions are “the price of diversification” and added that Macau must offer “attractive social and service benefits to retain and capture new professionals.”