James Packer’s Crown Resorts is facing a vicious backlash from Australia’s unions over its decision to sack 16 slots technicians at its flagship Crown Casino Melbourne.
The chorus of anger has been amplified by the fact that Amtek, the company to which Crown has outsourced the jobs, is chaired by Jeff Kennet, the former premier of the State of Victoria.
It was under Kennett’s tenure in the nineties that Crown Melbourne was given the go-ahead to be built and subsequently licensed, prompting conspiracy theorists among the unions to allege establishment collusion and cronyism. It’s a suggestion Kennett dismissed this week as “absolute rubbish.”
“James [Packer] would not have known about this tender,’’ he added. “I had no involvement in it but it’s just because of my being alive, they have something to run a campaign. I can only say no one under 50 would know who I was these days.”
But the unions aren’t taking any prisoners. They have promised to harass Crown’s VIPs in a bid to hit profits and to wage an all-out “social media war” against the Aussie casino giant.
On Tuesday, during a demonstration outside the Crown’s front doors, Electrical Trades Union Victorian secretary Troy Gray told hundreds of workers to flood Crown’s Facebook and TripAdvisor pages with negative reviews. Social media was the “new weapon of the workers,” he claimed.
“We know the high-rollers,” he warned. “We will contact the high-rollers and put them on notice. If they hear this story, they will shake their heads in disgrace.”
He also vowed unions would go after “the big corporations” that book function rooms at the Crown and even keep vigil at the casino’s helipad, greeting Chinese VIPs with signs written in Mandarin denouncing the company.
Tumbleweed on the Helipad
This last tactic may be the least successful because of a conspicuous dearth of high rollers at the helipad. Crown Resorts is still reeling from the arrest and imprisonment of 14 staff members and two former staff members in China on charges of marketing the company’s services to Chinese high-rollers.
The arrests severely embarrassed Crown, forcing it to rein in its ambitions of international expansion, reduce its investment exposure to the region and completely abandon its VIP marketing in China.
Severed from such a vital revenue stream, it has been forced to cut costs, which is what may have led to the job cuts in the first place.
The fact is, the flow of Mandarin-speaking high rollers arriving by helicopter has largely dried up.