Around 300 workers, many of them croupiers at local casinos, called for a salary increase in the New Year during a protest yesterday. It was the second demonstration of the week, following Sunday’s protest related to transit fee hikes.
Organized by the Union of New Macau Gaming Workers’ Rights, the demonstration was mainly attended by members of the association, as well as by some of the relatives of these employees.
The group first gathered at Tap Seac Square at 4 p.m. Lawmakers Ng Kuok Cheong and Au Kam Sam were present and participated throughout the entire demonstration.
During a speech given to the crowd before the march started, Ng Kuok Cheong said that the government should establish a trade union law to protect worker rights.
Au Kam Sam emphasised that even though Macau is currently not hiring non-local dealers, it cannot be promised that the government won’t allow such recruitment to take place in the future.
Cloee Chao, leader of the Union of New Macau Gaming Workers’ Rights, said that in 2016, local gaming operators did not increase the salaries of their employees, even though their gaming incomes increased over consecutive months.
Chao pointed out that salaries should be adjusted in line with the local economy’s inflation rate.
“Hopefully, it can catch up with the inflation registered in the last two years, by increasing at least five percent,” explained Chao. “Right now, there have been no voices from the gaming operators talking about salary increases, not even one.”
Chao also recalled that the salaries of civil servants were increased, but dealers’ pay remained the same.
This time, the group is calling for an overall salary increase for all employees in the gaming sector, not just dealers.
“There are positions in the casinos where the salaries are really low,” said Chao. “We hope all kinds of industries can increase their salaries,” she added.
The group departed from Tap Seac Square at 4:40 p.m. and arrived at the government headquarters at around 5.10 p.m., where Chao and four other people delivered their prepared letter to the government representative.
A participant surnamed Lau who works for a Chinese gaming operator, said that in previous years his employer increased his salary by five percent each year. He hopes that employers will make a similar increase now.
The entire demonstration saw the participants shouting loudly and repeating “2017, increase my salary” and “government is incompetent, gaming operators are shameless.”
The group also played a Cantonese song called “The private eyes,” which reflects the harsh working life of the middle and lower classes in Hong Kong during the 1970’s.
At the government headquarters, Chao told the media that she hopes the city can pass a trade union law soon so that the employees won’t need to be holding demonstrations all the time.
Chao said that the demonstration met her expectations in terms of attendance numbers. She also said that in the near future, the association will ask some lawmakers to help them question the government in the Legislative Assembly about why no salary increases occurred in 2016.
Chao also claimed that if the operators do not increase their salaries before the Chinese New Year, the association will collect signatures of all the gaming sector’s employees to organize an even larger protest.