2,200 March in Macau Labor Protest Demanding Better Benefits, Working Conditions from Melco Resorts

Posted on: August 4, 2018, 08:00h. 

Last updated on: August 4, 2018, 07:39h.

According to a report by GGRAsia.com, a Macau-based activism group said that nearly 2,200 people marched in a protest against Melco Resorts and Entertainment, demanding better benefits and work conditions from the company.

Macau gaming labor protests
Macau gaming workers have protested regularly in recent years, such as at this march in September 2014. (Image: Bloomberg)

Local police were said to have provided a smaller estimate of 1,300 people who participated in the march. There was no way to confirm whether all of the protesters were workers from Melco properties.

Retirement Benefits, Bonuses Among Issues Raised

The GGRAsia report cited Cloee Chao, the director of the New Macau Gaming Workers Association, labor group, as saying that the protest was designed to allow workers to voice their concerns over Melco’s retirement benefits fund, as well as the company’s enforcement of its smoking policies on casino floors.  

A Macau New Agency report cited Chao as saying that employees were also hoping to get more information about the so-called 14th month bonuses that employees were expecting to receive from the company. Demands for such summer bonuses – which would be in addition to a “13th month” bonus that are widely paid during the winter season – have been made towards several gaming companies in the territory, including Galaxy Entertainment Group.

Other labor issues noted in media reports included insufficient break times, and the way that retirement fund contributions were calculated.

Melco responded to the protests with a statement that was received by GGRAsia on Wednesday.

“We take great pride in offering a great working environment for our employees, and will listen to their issues directly,” a spokesperson said in the statement.

The statement made reference to a one-time payment of six months’ salary to eligible employees, known as the “Golden Nest Egg” program.

“This was in addition to any discretionary annual bonus paid by Melco, and it was at the time and remains to this day the highest such payment in the industry,” read the statement.

Labor Protests Common in Macau

Macau has dealt with a series of labor protests in recent years, as workers have fought for various benefits and rights in the local gaming industry.

For instance, while smoking policies may seem like a minor point to protest over, arguments over the topic between labor and management date back several years. A ban on smoking on mass market gaming floors was instituted in October 2014, but employees have said that many gamblers still get away with smoking at tables rather than in the designated smoking lounges.

VIP smoking lounges were also supposed to be established by the start of 2018, though the city’s casinos were granted a one-year grace period to comply with the new regulations.

Last year, employees at the Galaxy Macau protested over working conditions during and after Typhoon Hato, saying that they had been threatened with pay stoppages if they were late or absent for their scheduled shifts during the dangerous storm.

While Melco remains a major player in the Macau market, its share of the territory’s gaming industry has been slipping as of late. The City of Dreams resort saw revenues drop more than 10 percent in the second quarter of 2018, with VIP play apparently down at the casino despite the fact that high-stakes baccarat play has been growing in the city overall.