Hotel workers complain about unpaid mealtime

Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Issue 1292, Page 8
Word count: 404
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

More than 770 employees of the Venetian have complained to the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) in mid-April regarding meal breaks and overtime pay, the bureau confirmed yesterday.

DSAL director Shuen Ka Hung said on the sidelines of a media gathering that the bureau is studying employment contracts to see what the agreement is between the two sides.

Between April 14 and noon yesterday, a total of 773 workers mainly from the facility management, cleaning and housekeeping departments of Venetian Macau Ltd. have filed a complaint to DSAL concerning overtime pay, and some about provident fund/pension funds, accommodation and the principle of equality.

Of them, 631 were local residents and 142 were imported workers.

“It’s not a matter of pay cuts but whether the one hour mealtime should be paid as overtime,” Shuen said.

With regard to the overtime pay complaints, the bureau said the workers claimed that the Venetian introduced a new guideline on August 3, 2007 which excluded mealtime from the 48 hour working time per week.

However, they also claimed that the company has launched a new policy recently which gives them a 30 minute daily paid meal break, and believed that they should be entitled to compensation for all the unpaid mealtime since August 2007, the DSAL spokesperson told the Macau Daily Times.

In Macau, the law stipulates that regular working time is eight hours a day, six days a week and work outside of this limit has to be paid as overtime.

In addition, Shuen told reporters that if the Venetian obliged its staff to eat in the company’s canteen and disallowed them to go out during the meal break, then it would be considered as a working hour and thus wages needed to be paid accordingly.

A Venetian spokeswoman told the MDTimes that the company did not restrict its staff to eat in the canteen.

In addition, Shuen reminded that an employer could break the law if workers are not given a half an hour break for every five consecutive working hours.

The DSAL director also disclosed that the cross-department task force is studying ways to eliminate the ‘origin of illegal workers’ in the legal system, including how to regulate principle contractors to assume responsibility for personnel management inside construction sites.

Yet he said he expected that the research work will be ‘difficult and time-consuming’, and that the industry would likely oppose such a proposal.

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