21 August 2019
Macau casino workers want a ban on foreigners taking dealers’ jobs, among other demands. Photo: Facebook
Macau casino workers want a ban on foreigners taking dealers’ jobs, among other demands. Photo: Facebook

Macau casino workers threaten to go on strike again on Saturday

About 7,000 Macau casino workers took to the streets on Monday to demand better pay and working conditions in the special administrative region, Apple Daily reported Tuesday.

And they may hold another strike on Saturday.

The workers, from the six gaming operators, marched through the streets and stopped at the major casinos.

This was the ninth protest staged by the Macau Gaming Industry Frontline Workers in the past 12 months. 

Cloee Chao, secretary general of the labor union, said they are demanding a pay increase for all workers, legislation barring foreign workers from taking dealers’ jobs, and extension of a smoking ban to all parts of the casinos.

Emotions ran high when the protesters reached the Grand Lisboa, which is owned by gambling tycoon Stanley Ho’s SJM Holdings Ltd.

The gaming giant earlier Monday morning said in a statement it was not prepared to engage in dialog with the protesters as the march was not organized by SJM employees.

SJM director Ambrose So said the company has been maintaining communications with its staff on a regular basis in order to understand their livelihood and look for ways to improve their compensation package. 

The statement drew sharp comments from the protesters, who complained their pay is lower than market levels.

They threatened that if SJM refuses to negotiate, dealers will not deal cards and pay out chips despite turning up for work on Saturday, which practically means putting on a strike.

Meanwhile, Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on attempted to pacify the disgruntled workers by reiterating that no foreigners will be imported into Macau to work as casino dealers in the coming five years.

However, Chui’s words do not seem to be convincing enough for Chao’s labor union.

“A verbal promise is simply not enough, there is a necessity for legislation,” Chao said. “Casino operators have started to deploy staff members with other job titles to work as dealers.”

“We fear they will introduce foreign labor for jobs other than dealers, with the ultimate goal of replacing local dealers.”

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