Government ‘regrets’ construction workers protest

Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Issue 986, Page 3
Word count: 537
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

In response to the protest by construction workers at the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) Monday, the government spokesperson Alexis Tam Chon Weng said “aggressive and impulsive behaviour will not help solve problems”.

More than 100 construction workers including the unemployed staged a demonstration at the bureau calling for labour rights and reduction of imported labour. It was then turned into clashes between protesters and riot police.

About 10 protesters remained on the other side of the pedestrian walk in front of the bureau yesterday. They shouted, through a speaker, for DSAL director to step down immediately.

The government spokesperson said that the Macau government was “highly concerned and regretted” about the protest, and reiterated that since the commencement of the third-term SAR government, it has been “actively listening to the voices of different sectors in society in order to formulate good policies”.

According to the Macau Basic Law and other existing legislation, Macau residents have the freedom to hold peacefully assemblies and demonstrations, but related administrative authorities must have to be informed in advance.

Tam stressed that “impulsive and aggressive behaviour won’t be able to solve problems. In contrast, it could deteriorate the incident which has already affected public order, the neighbourhood and the students in nearby schools”.

He said that the SAR government “fully understands the construction workers’ demands”, adding “to protect people’s livelihood and promote employment is one of the top priorities of the government this year”.

The spokesperson in the meantime reiterated that the SAR government will not tolerate any companies for holding fake recruitment drives and hiring illegal workers and related employers must be prosecuted.

Meanwhile, DSAL director Shuen Ka Hung told reporters a meeting with the head of the protesters and some other representatives has been scheduled at 5.30pm today at the bureau headquarters.

He explained that he was at the Legislative Assembly on Monday morning when the construction workers requested to carry out a face-to-face dialogue with him.

In the afternoon the protesters were invited to go inside the bureau building to meet with him, Shuen Ka Hung said, but they refused and insisted to do it on the street.

Galaxy recruitment fair

On the other hand, regarding the March 20 mass recruitment fair held by Galaxy Entertainment at its Cotai Strip construction site, the DSAL chief said the bureau had put the “biggest effort” to help local workers throughout the incident, “no matter it was a true or fake recruitment drive”.

He said Galaxy has agreed to send copies of the contracts to the bureau on April 19 for review. “We’ll look through them and announce the details afterwards. It will be clear at that time whether or not it’s a fake recruitment fair”.

If it is found that Galaxy is intentionally pushing down local construction workers’ salaries, Shuen Ka Hung said the bureau will cut down the gaming operator’s imported labour quotas or even cancel all of the quotas.

In order to make sure that Galaxy will not fire these local workers after getting the imported ones, Shuen said the bureau will send a team to inspect the construction site in the future to eliminate any illegal workers as well as to count the number of local workers there.

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