‘Blue cards’ up hirer’s sleeve


One of the concerns previously raised by local migrant workers associations and groups is the added difficulties or impracticability workers will encounter when attempting to have prior contact with their future employer, or even being able to search for a job on their own. This is because the new law disallows people entering Macau on a tourism visa to apply for work permits while they are still in the territory.
The new rules were clarified yesterday and state that non-resident workers already in Macau must also abide by the same requirements when changing employer. This adds to concerns about the importance of keeping the blue card active, as cancellation of these permits will force non-resident workers to exit Macau and commence a brand-new application process with a new employer while staying outside the borders of Macau.
Many employers see this decision as a way to retain a more steady labor force, while some on the employees’ side regard it as placing the workers in an even more disadvantaged position for negotiating working conditions with their employers.
Jassy Santos, president of the Progressive Union of Domestic Workers of Macau, shares this opinion, telling the Times that the enforcement of these new rules will significantly affect both employers and employees while benefiting recruitment agencies.
“I think this will be bad and both sides (employers and employees) will be negatively affected,” Santos said, adding, “The only people benefited by this system [are likely] to be the recruitment agencies as I am sure they will find in this system excuses to keep adding fees, especially in what concerns to accommodation and traveling expenses.”
For Santos, the new rules add more possibilities for abuse from the recruitment agencies and will also create more difficulties for both employees and employers, particularly those that have lost their jobs and had to return home during the epidemic.
She explained that Filipino workers especially “like to come to Macau, to tour, to know the place, see how things work and we like to choose our jobs according to our skills and preferences.”
The president of the association who fights for the rights of the domestic workers also recalled that these workers have already been largely disregarded and put in a difficult position.
“The minimum wage does not apply to us and we also do not have a real contract according to the rules [of Macau]. We have whatever contract our employees decide to write for us,” she said noting, that most of the time the provisions of the contracts are very far from the provisions of the law.
Santos considers that with these new rules, the workers will experience further losses in working conditions and the capacity to negotiate with both employers and recruitment agencies.
Also questioned on the topic, the president of the Indonesian Migrant Workers Union, Yosa Wariyanti, told the Times that she is “a bit worried” by the changes but there are other more concerning problems.
“We respect the government’s decision on this matter, and certainly the new regulations will also include rules on how the recruitment process of migrant workers [will be done], from recruitment rules, accommodation costs, departure and agency costs,” Wariyanti said, adding, “We just hope that prospective migrant workers will not be trapped in illegal recruitment by brokers, and hope that there will be no overcharging by recruitment agencies.”
Wariyanti further explained that although the new rules are important, they do not affect so many Indonesian migrants as they tend to come to Macau through agents and, because of this, the elimination of job seeking for tourism visas is not likely to affect many of them.
She added that since the Indonesians’ problems are more related to the agencies and brokers, who recruit the workers locally in their home towns, “our concern is always on the fact that many migrant workers [from Indonesia] are stuck with high recruitment fees,” adding that the group supports “clear and non-detrimental rules for migrant workers.”

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