Galaxy Macau Casino Employees Protest Working Conditions

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017 | Written by April Bergman
Galaxy Macau Casino Employees Protest Working Conditions

An estimated 150 people attended a rally outside the Galaxy Macau Hotel and Casino to protest working conditions inside the resort. The Cotai Strip casino is owned by Galaxy Entertainment, a Chinese company traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

The group which organized the protest is translated as the “Macau Gaming Industry Frontline Workers Union” (MGIFWU). The Frontline Workers Union organized the protest after hundreds of Galaxy Macau workers lodged complaints through Macau’s Labour Affairs Bureau.

While discontent has been brewing for some time, the workers’ complaints were filed in the aftermath of Typhoon Hato.

Unrest began in the wake of the hurricane, which struck Hong Kong and Macau on August 23, because the storm caused Galaxy workers to insufficient rest periods and unpaid overtime. As many in the city needed additional resources to pay for storm damage or the medical care of family members, casino workers became outraged.

Galaxy Workers Want Annual Bonus

One key demand the protesting workers made was to be paid an addition annual bonus. The bonus would alleviate many of the concerns of employees in the short term, though the Macau Gaming Industry Frontline Workers Union say that the grievances by workers are longstanding in nature. The annual bonus would be repetitive — not a one-time payment.

Galaxy Macau announced in late-August it would provide workers with an “annual discretionary bonus”, though it turned out to be early payment of their traditional year-end bonus. The year-end bonus is an extra month’s salary or, in real terms, 4 additional weeks of pay. Employees now are demanding a “14th month” of bonus pay every year.

StarWorld Workers’ Complaints

One worker, identified only as “Wan”, gave a statement to GGRAsia during the Galaxy Macau rally. Wan purported to be a worker at StarWorld Hotel, another Galaxy Entertainment Group property, which indicated that workers at multiple Galaxy properties believe work conditions are harsh.

Wan said, “The protest today is against the harsh way Galaxy Entertainment [Group Limited] treats its employees. Now [Galaxy] is giving us in advance [part of] the bonus from year-end but we are saying ‘No’. This bonus was supposed to be ours anyway. It [did it] just to keep our mouths shut.”

Cloee Chao: Professionals for Gaming of New Macau

The workers have other demands, including changes to workplace practices. Cloee Chao, who is co-founder and president of the Macau Gaming Industry Frontline Workers Union, handed over a petition with a list of demands to Galaxy executives. The petition called for an end to an internal rating system that the workers deem unfair.

Chao’s petition also called for an end to a policy which requires dealers to deal baccarat, even when no players are at the table. The petition also contained demands involving work promotions and employee termination protocols. The warning letter procedure is considered particularly irksome to the Galaxy workers, while the group also demands a clearer picture of the standards for how employees are promoted through the ranks.

The group also called for the casino to close the Horizon VIP Room. The Horizon high-roller baccarat tables overlook the rest of the casino’s gaming space, but is considered a smoking section. Cigarette smoke wafts into the room below, thus making the bulk of Galaxy Macau’s workers subject to cigarette smoke by the end of an evening.

Cloee Chao for Macau Legislative Assembly

Cloee Chao’s profile was raised in the protests. Chao is running for the Macau Legislative Assembly next month. When asked by GGR Asia about the group’s next move, she said, “Let’s give the company a week and see what its responses are. If it does nothing, then we are going to gather again next weekend.”

Chao said that the next protest likely would take place outside the StarWorld Hotel. If that protest happens, she suggested that the protesters might block employee entrances to the resort.

Galaxy Entertainment Statement on Protests

Galaxy Entertainment Group issued a statement about the current protests — or perhaps it is best called a non-statement. Galaxy’s press release stated, “In responding to media enquiries about a non-Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited employee organizing a protest today, the company wishes not to comment on this incident.”

The statement to GGRAsia continued, “However, Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited reaffirms that the company is always willing to listen to its employees and is committed to following up on any reasonable suggestions and making any necessary improvements.”