By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
Galaxy Entertainment Group’s construction site in Cotai is sending away nearly 1,000 non-local workers as a result of having failed to meet the 1:1 proportion in the industry.
Coordinator of the Human Resources Office (GRH) Wong Chi Hong disclosed the news at the Legislative Assembly yesterday when addressing the oral interpellations from lawmakers.
Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam Pak Yuen in April this year announced the minimum 1:1 ratio of local to imported workers in the construction industry, meaning that a company must have to hire local construction workers in a quantity same as the imported ones that they get.
Wong Chi Hong said that since April, seven enterprises have been found to have allegedly violated the regulation based on the results of the Labour Affairs Bureau’s (DSAL) construction site raids.
He also confirmed that one of the enterprises was gaming operator Galaxy and its case has already been confirmed after the company was called to explain in a special hearing and a related assessment was carried out.
Hence, Wong said DSAL has decided to cut one thirds of Galaxy’s imported labour quotas for its Cotai construction. The nearly 1,000 affected workers are in the process of departing Macau.
The GRH head told reporters after the plenary meeting that the hearings for the other six enterprises were also completed and the results are currently being analysed.
In the future these companies will go through “more strict requirements” in order to obtain non-local construction workers, Wong Chi Hong said, adding the GRH will only approve the applications when it is certain that no local people are available for the posts.
Meanwhile, Wong told the lawmakers that the Venetian has been placing recruitment notices seeking Macau workers at the DSAL in preparation for the resumption of its Parcels 5 and 6 construction projects in the Cotai Strip.
Although he has previously confirmed that the Venetian has already filed an imported construction worker application, he stressed yesterday that the GRH will only say yes according to the recruitment results at the DSAL.
More assistance for workers needed
During the plenary meeting, four of the five oral interpellations focused on the effectiveness of the Government’s training programs for the unemployed or underemployed construction workers, how to monitor the execution of the 1:1 proportion, as well as how to guarantee local workers could truly benefit from major public projects such as the Pac On Ferry Terminal and the Light Rail Transit.
DSAL director Shuen Ka Hung responded that the cross-department group plans to launch vocational training for various types of jobs in Macau and to find out what kinds of techniques will be in demand for the large-scale public projects in the near future.
He agreed with lawmaker Tsui Wai Kwan’s idea of establishing a vocational training council to enhance the organisation and implement an occupational skill testing system. Yet, he pointed out that training facilities for some of the occupations require a “huge investment” but not many people will enrol into those courses, and thus “the expected results cannot be achieved”.
Instead, Shuen Ka Hung said Macau can make use of the resources in neighbouring areas such as Zhuhai and arrange trainees to go outside of Macau.
Lawmaker Lam Heong Seng was worried that the occupational skill testing system might become an excuse for companies to import labour, when local workers fail the tests.
Shuen Ka Hung said the Government will offer advanced courses to the workers until they can pass the tests. But he stressed that “the testing system should not be linked with the importation of labour”.
Meanwhile, the Infrastructure Development Office’s coordinator Chan Hon Kit told lawmakers the Pac On Ferry Terminal will stage recruitment fairs in phases and plans to hire around 1,000 construction workers.
At present, a sub-contractor will shoulder all legal liabilities if being found to have employed illegal workers. Chan Hon Kit said when illegal workers are found in a construction site, the main contractor will be notified and if it continues to hire the same sub-contractor, it will need to bear part of the liabilities as well.
Border crossings 24/7
Lawmaker Chan Wai Chi questioned Secretary for Security Cheong Kuoc Va of whether the Government could open immigration clearance for half an hour earlier at 6.30am at the Border Gate checkpoint, when a 24-hour border crossing is not yet made possible.
Secretary Cheong disclosed that the SAR Government went to negotiate with the Beijing Public Security Ministry last week regarding the matter, but reiterated that a 24-hour border crossing is subject to the approval of the central government’s decision-making authorities.
He said the Government will look into the feasibility of every proposal in order to provide “highly efficient and quality immigration clearance”.
If the central government gives Macau the green light eventually, Cheong Kuoc Va stressed that the Customs of Macau has “sufficient human resources” and will only need “a few days to prepare” for the extended services.