Workers demand assistance to recoup outstanding wages

Friday, July 1, 2011
Issue 1346, Page 6
Word count: 347
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

About 30 local construction workers yesterday petitioned the chief executive demanding government assistance to recover outstanding wages which they claim amount to over MOP 1 million.

The employee representative Vong Sin Peng, 53, told the Macau Daily Times that the group and three other colleagues imported from Hong Kong, went to the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) to complain about outstanding wages, but their employer – the main contractor of the Venetian’s parcels 5 and 6 sites on the Cotai Strip – last paid compensation to only three non-local workers.

Vong said that DSAL explained that the work permits (‘blue cards’) of the three imported workers proved that the main contractor was their employer, while there was no “evidence” showing who hired the other 30 Macau workers.

He said it is a common practice in the industry that no employment contract is signed.

“We were actually employed by the main contractor but now a sub-contractor suddenly came and told the DSAL that he was our employer. He said he didn’t have any money and we can just sue him if we want,” Vong told the MDTimes.

The 53-year-old said DSAL could not help them solve the problem and told them to sue the sub-contractor.

“Why can’t we [local and non-local workers] be treated equally? The main contractor should shoulder the ultimate responsibility to pay outstanding wages or otherwise workers have no protection at all,” he complained.

Vong has been in the industry for about 30 years and said it was the first time that he has experienced a main contractor refusing to “take over sub-contractor’s debts”.

He said they had not been paid for two months, since mid-April and the workers are in “urgent financial need” to support themselves and their families.

“We hope the government can legislate so that main contractors are required to be responsible for all outstanding wages and can also help us recover the money this time,” Vong said.

In addition, he said the workers are going to stage a protest at the parcels 5 and 6 construction sites for eight days beginning today.

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