Macau Dealers Catch Blue Flu

Labor groups in Macau turned up the volume on public protests by casino dealers and other front-line workers for better pay and benefits, calling sickouts and slowdowns during the busy Golden Week weekend. The job actions struck MGM Macau and casinos owned by SJM and Galaxy. Cloee Chao, co-founder of Macau Gaming Industry Frontline Workers' Union at left.

Dealers and other front-line casino workers staged sickouts at MGM Macau and casinos run by SJM and Galaxy during the busy Golden Week weekend to call attention to their demands for better pay and benefits.

As many as 800 dealers participated in the job action, which began last Friday, the third day of the popular national holiday, and included sick leaves and working to rule, said Cloee Chao, secretary-general of the union Forefront of Macau Gaming.

News reports said the protests continued into Saturday.

Casino workers have participated in numerous public protests this year to call attention to management policies and pay scales they consider unfair and inadequate. Union leaders also have met with government officials to voice their complaints.

The demands are expected to impact casino operating costs market-wide amid an acute shortage of employable workers that could get worse when the first of up to eight new resorts open next year. The city’s unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the world at 1.7 percent, and government policy forbids the industry from importing workers for croupier jobs.

Growing labor unrest has authorities alarmed as well, and five union leaders, including Chao, were summoned for questioning by police last month and charged with “aggravated disobedience” in connection with an August protest march that reportedly drew more than 1,000 workers.