Casino workers seek government help after mass food poisoning case


Yesterday, six members of the New Macau Gaming Staff Rights Association delivered a petition of complaint to the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) asking the government to intervene in their employer’s alleged decision to classify sick days as unpaid leave.
The complaint was specifically filed on behalf of a group of approximately 30 employees of gaming operator Sociedade dos Jogos de Macau (SJM) or its affiliate casino properties.
Earlier this month, a large group of workers from four different casinos – all connected to SJM – were diagnosed with food poisoning on the same night.
According to the Health Bureau, the case appears to be connected with an employee catering area for the four properties. Thirty-two of the people in this group dined at the facility on May 1, while the others did so on April 30 and May 2.
According to Cloee Chao, Chairperson of New Macau Gaming Staff Rights Association, the workers accused their employers of defining their days off work as “unpaid leave.” They accused SJM of depriving them of their rights for holiday. However, different SJM casinos have implemented their own management policies, Chao explained. Taking more than one day off work may be regarded as unpaid leave pursuant to the corresponding company.
Chao said that as of 3 p.m. yesterday, SJM has not provided any information towards a resolution.
The workers hope SJM will not regard their absence as unpaid leave.
The group, all of whom are Macau local residents, expect their companies to cover their medical expenses. The workers have spent thousands of Macau patacas for one to four days of medical treatment. Most of them took at least one day off work.
SJM is said to have only covered the medical expenses for those who were taken to hospital by ambulance straight from the company after the food poisoning incident.
Some of the uncompensated workers were not sent to the hospital directly from their company immediately following the incident. They only visited the hospital after they had left their workplace. SJM has said it will take no responsibility for compensating this group of workers, according to Chao.
The group complained to the company, but the person in charge responded to the workers’ appeal with the same information.
Chao’s association has filed the petition with the DSAL because Macau’s labor relations law does not include provisions concerning food poisoning on-duty. As a result, the casinos were wary of compensating the workers.
“The workers were not responsible for the food poisoning case,” said Chao, urging the gaming operator to take responsibility for those affected.
The incident involved 53 people, of whom 13 are male and 40 are female. Their ages range from 26 to 60 years old.
The 43 people the SSM has had contact with said that they developed diarrhea, fever and vomiting from April 30. Three employees were hospitalized.

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