Legislators ask government to assist VIP room employees

Employees have been affected by the closure of VIP rooms.
Employees have been affected by the closure of VIP rooms.

Three legislators have asked authorities to protect the labour rights of Macau residents who have been affected by the closure of VIP rooms.

Macau.- Three legislators have asked authorities to formulate special procedures to protect the labour rights of workers who have been laid off due to the closure of Suncity Group Holdings‘ and other VIP rooms in the city.

On December 1, Suncity Group Holdings decided to close all of its VIP rooms in Macau until further notice, following the arrest of Alvin Chau Cheok Wa on cross-border gambling and money laundering accusations. A week ago, Tak Chun, the second-largest junket operator in Macau, also confirmed that some casino operators decided to temporarily suspend their partnerships.

According to Macau Business, legislator Ngan Iek Hang said: “There is uncertainty regarding the progress of these cases involving prosecutors of game, therefore, many workers in the sector are concerned and uneasy about the possibility of becoming unemployed.”

He added: “The worst thing is that game promoters mostly hire people from the public relations, security and treasury areas, some of them are young, with academic qualifications. Their technical skills and educational qualifications may make it harder to find new employment.”

Legislator Ella Lei Cheng I mentioned the Macau Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) initiative to provide consultation on labour rights to Suncity workers. However, she said some workers are unable to claim unemployment benefits as they haven’t received notification from the company about their dismissal.

The DSAL has opened a special counter to assist employees affected by the closure of Suncity’s VIP rooms. It provides labour rights consultation and registration support services for relevant workers. It also supplies job registration services and vocational training information.

However, legislator Jose Pereira Coutinho said: “Suncity workers claim that DSAL has not acted proactively, putting up a front instead of immediately sending their inspectors to find out what is going on with the company after receiving such complaints.”

He added: “To make matters worse, this DSAL also forced them to present proof of dismissal in order to have access to employment training. How are workers going to get these proofs when almost all the heads of Suncity disappeared from the map and no one has the authority to sign the unfair dismissal declarations?”

Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) and DSAL had previously said that current laws protect the rights of employees working in VIP rooms promoted by junkets. However, the statement said that those who have been hired by junket operators must safeguard their labour rights by themselves.

Tak Chun said its affected employees will receive higher compensation than that contemplated by the Labour Relations Law, including one month’s additional basic salary, seniority compensation, provident funds-for employees who have served for three years-and unapplied paid annual leave.

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