Sun, Aug 31, 2014 - Page 5 News List

Macau casino workers push for better pay, conditions

Reuters, HONG KONG

Gaming workers protest in Macau, China, on Monday. The workers started industrial action yesterday for better pay and working conditions.

Photo: Bloomberg

Casino dealers working in some of gambling hub Macau’s most popular casinos started industrial action yesterday for the first time in the Chinese territory as discontent over salaries and working benefits spreads.

A group of dealers working for SJM Holdings, the gaming stalwart run by the family of former Macau kingpin Stanley Ho (何鴻燊), are planning to show up late for their shift while others are planning not to work any overtime, a union leader said.

“This will pause table game operations,” said Ieong Mang Teng, a baccarat dealer and head of the Forefront of Macau Gaming, a labor group that has organized frequent protests over the past two months to demand higher pay and benefits.

Macau is racing to build eight new resorts in the next three years but labor strains look set to intensify. Workers are demanding higher pay and threatening strikes at a time when operators already face a labor shortage.

Macau is the only place in China where casino gambling is legal. The special administrative region boasts 35 casinos and relies on gaming taxes for more than 80 percent of government revenues.

Home to a population of about 500,000 people, Macau has one of the world’s lowest jobless rates at 1.7 percent. Rigid labor regulations that prohibit foreigners working at the gaming tables mean casino operators have little choice but to raise wages to attract and retain staff.

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