Macau Casino Employees Want Healthier Workplace Environments, Better Holiday Schedules

Posted on: September 8, 2019, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: September 6, 2019, 04:26h.

Macau casino employees say in a survey that they want better holiday schedules, a five-day work week standard, and healthier workplace environments free of tobacco smoke.

Macau casino union workers
Macau casino workers are voicing their wishes to the enclave’s next chief executive. (Image: Bobby Yip/Reuters)

The New Macau Gaming Staff Rights Association – the leading labor union in the enclave – polled its members to find out what issues are of most importance. The group said 7,235 members answered the survey, and the leading topics were as follows: gaming staff should be able to enjoy the same holiday rights as civil servants, gaming companies should exercise a five working days per week program for workers, and a rigorous smoking control policy for safeguarding workers’ health should be enforced.

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,” union Vice Director Jeremy Lei told GGRAsia.

The topics were directed in a letter to Macau Chief Executive-elect Ho Iat Seng.

Sharing the Riches

Macau’s six licensed casino operators will all see their licenses expire in 2022. Much remains unknown on how the Special Administrative Region will conduct the issuing of new permits.

Ho has no ties to the gaming industry, unlike his two predecessors. The 62-year-old politician hasn’t made any public statements on casinos, but licensing governance will be the most critical component of his first term – which begins December 20.

The gaming industry accounts for around 90 percent of Macau’s taxes. Casinos won $37.8 billion in 2018, and are on pace to win slightly less this year.

The operators – Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts, Galaxy Entertainment, Wynn Resorts, SJM Holdings, and Melco Resorts – all issued substantial wage increases to their workers in 2019. The pay came by either bonuses or higher salaries.

MGM increased non-management pay by 2.5 percent to 7.1 percent. Wynn gave bonuses to 96 percent of its 13,500 workers, equivalent to one month of pay. Melco gave bonuses to non-managerial staff, and Sands raised pay rates for 99 percent of its 28,000 employees.

Casinos also extended paid time off for both maternal and paternal leave.

Union Demands

With Macau casino workers seemingly satisfied with their pay, the union members want other things changed in the gaming hub.

China has seven federal official holidays – the two week-long events being the most important: the Feb. 4-10 Spring Festival, and Oct. 1-7 National Day Holiday. These are the two periods when most workers are granted a week of time off, and many flock to Macau for their leisure enjoyment.

Macau workers are forced to work throughout the busy holidays, something the union wants to better address with Ho.

Another topic is the five-day work week. According to labor statistics, 60 percent of workers in Macau are on the job six days a week for a total of 48 hours.

Finally, the Macau government outlawed smoking on casino floors in 2014. But it was permitted tableside in VIP rooms until this year. Casinos were also recently mandated to improve the functionality of their enclosed smoking rooms, but workers apparently feel too much smoke remains.