By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
Galaxy Entertainment has already recruited more than 4,000 locals in exchange for the Government’s approval to import 2,000 workers for its soon-to-be-open mega resort in Cotai, the Human Resources Office (GRH) confirmed yesterday.
In response to lawmaker Chan Wai Chi’s oral interpellation at the Legislative Assembly, GRH coordinator Wong Chi Hong revealed that the gaming operator has met the requirement set by the Macau Government on February 28 in order to be granted 2,000 non-resident labour quotas to support the operations of Galaxy Macau resort, which is slated to open on May 15.
Wong said the number did not include the 500 imported construction workers already approved previously to Galaxy.
However, a number of lawmakers still expressed concerns over past reports that local employees were fired by gaming enterprises without reason after the three-month probation period, and thus were worried that those 4,000 local workers may encounter the same experience.
The GRH chief reiterated that the current law states that if within the same job type the number of imported labour exceeds that of local labour in a company, the employer must have to change the proportion in 15 days.
If the company is unable to hire enough local people before the deadline, Wong said it needs to apply to the GRH for an extension or else the Government may cut its imported labour quotas.
Director of the Labour Affairs Bureau, Shuen Ka Hung, also said if a company lays off a local employee without giving a justified reason while the non-resident workers in the same job type remain, the sacked worker can report to the bureau against the employer.
Shuen also denied that his bureau ignored such kind of complaints and took a long time to handle the cases, adding that if it does happen the workers could accuse the bureau of having constituted an administrative violation and report to the Commission Against Corruption.
Yet, Shuen admitted to lawmakers that some enterprises had held “fake recruitment fairs” in Macau in order to convince the GRH to approve their imported labour applications, but at the same time there were also workers who pretended to the Government that they were trying hard to find a job.
“Some job candidates asked the companies not to hire them or else DSAL wouldn’t issue the unemployment certificates for them […], while there were companies who told the candidates in job interviews that they had already hired someone and just asked them to wait for their calls at home,” Shuen explained.
“The situation was not common or serious though. A majority of the enterprises have a conscience and workers do want to find a job wholeheartedly,” he added.
Meanwhile, the lawmakers were concerned about the establishment of a human resources database in Macau, which they believe is a way to demonstrate Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On’s “scientific policy-making” principle.
Shuen disclosed that the database is in the “preparatory stage”, but stressed that at present the Statistics and Census Bureau and the DSAL have updated information in hand concerning the profile of non-resident labour and the unemployment situation in Macau.
Wong Chi Hong also said that the GRH has developed a software to assist in evaluating the human resources situation and needs in the territory and that the Government’s Economic Development Committee has also been providing advice and opinions.
He said the GRH strives to announce imported labour data directly to the public starting mid-year.
On the other hand, lawmaker Kwan Tsui Hang inquired the officials in the plenary meeting about the sub-contracting system in construction sites and punishment for contractors who hired illegal workers.
According to the DSAL director, despite being difficult to charge contractors with employing illegal workers – which is a criminal act – since it was unlikely to prove the labour relationship, the Government initially hoped that the contractors might still be accused of “improper management” which will lead to an administrative penalty.
However, he said the industry disagreed with the proposal and as a result the measure could not be put forward.
“We expect that a consensus must first be obtained if the proposal is to be implemented, but it will be hard,” he added.
Public housing goal ‘okay’
Lawmaker Au Kam San questioned Secretary for Transport and Public Works Lau Si Io about the construction progress of the 19,000 public housing units promised by the Government by the end of 2012, and also asked for an explanation about the more than two year delay in the completion of the affordable housing in Rua da Tranquilidade do Hipodrómo, Areia Preta.
The secretary revealed that the Official Gazette next Wednesday will publish the public tender for the two last public housing projects in Seac Pai Van, and by the stated time “more than 17,000 public housing units will have already been either completed or in a public tender”.
The rest of the 2,000 units are in the design stage and the Government will strive to finish it as soon as possible in order to proceed with a tender, Lau Si Io added.
President of the Housing Bureau Tam Kuong Man replied that the Government is confident that the developer will be able to deliver the 880-unit Rua da Tranquilidade do Hipodrómo affordable housing “shortly”, and that after the draft law of the affordable housing construction and sale system is passed at the legislature, the allocation and sale of the 880 units can begin.
Furthermore, director of the Public Administration and Civil Service Bureau José Chu told lawmakers that the Government has introduced guidelines to coordinate the replies to lawmakers’ written interpellations.
He admitted that the administration “is feeling the pressure” to finish the task by the 30-day deadline and that “there is room to improve the content of the replies”.