acau legislator José Pereira Coutinho on Wednesday called on the city’s Chief Executive to take action against what he described as “collusion” between casinos and those responsible for regulating the gambling sector, in order to stop employment abuses.
Coutinho argued at the Legislative Assembly that “the time has come for the CE to intervene in the face of the recent upheavals at the top of the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ),” in a reference to new appointments to the posts of director and deputy director of the gaming watchdog, Macau Business reports.
The legislator expressed that “the abuses practiced by some gambling concessionaires have been widely denounced” in the assembly and in the media, but that “the competent authorities, out of stubbornness, do not intervene and are not even interested in knowing.” This, he said, is only understandable “because there is a permanent collusion between these companies and the most important officials in the gambling area.”
He pointed out that for more than a decade he had denounced “the great pressure” on employees in the gambling sector to resign “at the risk of being fired and being included in concessionaires’ blacklists […] so making it impossible for them to be hired by any other company linked to casinos.”
The New Macau Gaming Staff Rights Association has forwarded to the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) several assistance requests it received from more than a dozen dealers working in the same local satellite casino denouncing that their employers were forcing them to resign.
Satellite casinos rely on the gaming permit of one of Macau’s six licensed casino operators, but they are under the management of a third party.
"According to reports, the company frequently-issued warning letters based on some minor and common mistakes made by employees in daily work on-site, and some even more absurdly received notifications from the company’s human resources department that employees had asked for personal leave and sick leave for more than 45 days last year," the association indicated, as reported by Macau Business.
The company then informed them that they would have to file for automatic resignation, otherwise, they receive a letter of dismissal from the company in one week. According to the association, it was then the casino employees turned to the group so they could refer their complaints to DSAL.
The group noted that although Macau’s gaming industry has been affected to a considerable extent by the pandemic, casino employees during this period also faced their first employment crisis, and the issue of securing employment under this situation was a ‘major test’ for DSAL.
The association then noted that although in the second half of 2020, the income of the six major gaming concessionaires was not as good as beforehand despite a relatively numerous amount of employees, there were no layoffs and salary reductions, and the “one plus one” voluntary vacation program was generally introduced to allow voluntary applications for vacation.
As of November, 2020 local general unemployment rate is at 2.9 per cent, having been as low as 1.7 per cent in 2019, prior to the pandemic, with the unemployment rate for local residents at 4 per cent and the underemployment rate at 5.4 per cent.