The new chief executive set to run Macau hasn’t even officially taken over, but gaming employees of the city are already working to make sure he has very little downtime when he jumps in this December. They’ve reportedly prepared a list of changes they would like to see made just in time for the end-of-year holiday season.
The New Macau Gaming Staff Rights Association (NMGSRA), one of the biggest labor unions in Macau, distributed a survey to its members looking for input on what they would like to see made by the incoming chief executive, Ho Iat Seng. There was reportedly a great deal of participation in the survey, according to GGRAsia, with 7,235 members responding.
Among the primary changes Ho is going to have to consider are changes to the city’s smoking policies in order to protect employees’ health, equal holiday rights for casino employees comparable to those enjoyed by civil servants and a five-day work week.
Surprisingly, interest in salary increases was not that high. The inclination of the group was to vie for better working conditions, with less focus put on salaries. Perhaps the 13- or 14-month annual salary the workforce receives is sufficient. Either way, the union was a little shocked at the lack of interest on improved salaries and the vice director of the NMGSRA, Jeremy Lei Man Chao, states, “From the results, it is actually quite a surprise to us that most respondents have chosen topics related to a healthy working environment, rather than salary increments or imported-labour policy.”
The survey showed that smoking-related issues are still a problem for casino workers. The union’s director, Cloee Chao, explained, “Smoking-control violation is still a serious problem…the complaints that we always receive are mostly from the gaming workers that are employed at smaller casinos where they [venue management] did not install up-to-standard smoking lounges; and also [from] those that work in VIP gaming rooms.”
It will be interesting to see how the smoking concerns are dealt with, especially since Macau just authorized more smoking lounges. Macau’s casinos were given approval of another 21 lounges between them over the past two months, and second-hand smoke concerns are certainly going to be a topic of discussion. There are now 583 smoking lounges that adhere to the city’s updated smoking policies, but casino employees may feel that they don’t offer sufficient protection.
Macau is going to have to conduct a new tender process for gaming licenses in a few years. There are currently six licenses issued and all will be subject to review in 2022, and the employees’ union feels that this will make a great opportunity to have its wishes used as bargaining chips for the new tenders. The union’s director asserts, “Since the new chief executive would be handling the retender for Macau casino gaming rights, it is a good opportunity to tell him what the workers would want the government to consider [when negotiating the retender terms].”