Workers to protest pay and promotions at Sands China

By Emma Rumney
Macau labour union the Forefront of Macau Gaming (FMG) has threatened to “surround [Las Vegas Sand’s casino] The Venetian” on Wednesday to protest Sands China’s remuneration and promotion system.

FMG, which does not have active members but instead acts as an umbrella group that lobbies on behalf of other worker organisations, managed to rally 3,000 protestors in October and over 1,000 in March to oppose non-resident casino dealers and press the government to maintain the table game cap.

It says a demonstration will occur again on Wednesday if the group’s “reasonable” demands for a 10% salary increase for staff working on table games across the casino floor and increased transparency around the promotion of dealers to supervisors aren’t met.

Ieong Man Teng, president of FMG, told GGRAsia: “We are seeking a 10% pay increase for dealers and supervisors. This request is a reasonable one. There are staff who have been in the company many years that have not had pay increases that keep pace with inflation.”

GGRAsia reports that average monthly salaries for Macau casino dealers are currently 27% higher than they received in quarter four of 2007, but in the same period casino revenues have risen by almost 336%.

Furthermore, year-on-year salaries for Macau casino dealers have risen by 4.5% while inflation has risen by 5.5% over the same period, meaning that in real terms the purchasing power of dealers has dropped since last year.

FGM also wants all dealers currently training to be supervisors to be promoted by the middle of next year. It claims the promotion system is currently a lottery, with many workers – especially assistant pit managers –stuck in the same role for four or five years.

It’s being reported that both FGM and another union, the Gaming Employees Club (GEC) – which according to The Macau Business Daily (MBD) organised approximately 50 people to sign a petition to be handed to Macau’s Labour Affairs Bureau – are both dissatisfied with unequal and arbitrary pay rises and promotions for staff.

Willis Chen, director of GEC, told the MBD: “In terms of promotion and salary increase the system is not fair. They promote whoever they want, there are no regular rules. Some staff said they may not promote anyone and hire someone from outside to be a pit manager.”

Chen also said that some less experienced dealers are getting higher pay than others despite their working tasks being the same.

Sands China said it has recently conducted 148 communication sessions and 58 focus groups with staff, of whom 2,100 attended.

On Monday the firm announced that all assistant pit managers would be promoted to level two pit managers, all level one pit managers will be promoted to pit managers and all qualified dealers will be promoted to pit supervisors as of 1 August.

On 3 July it also said it would pay a “special award” bonus that is the equivalent of one month’s salary to more than 27,000 full-time employees at manager grade and below.

Sands China told GGRAsia: “In the first six months of 2014 Sands China launched several programmes in its team member master plan: earlier-than-usual January pay as a special arrangement in light of the Chinese new year; the payment of a bonus in February to all eligible full-time members; a company-wide salary increase in March [and] a special award of one month’s additional salary for all manager grade and below team members in July, to be paid annually through 2017.”

The announcement was made after FMG met with representatives of the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau and Labour Affairs Bureau.

However Man Teng said the terms covered in the announcement are unclear and hence the protest is expected to continue.

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