HONG KONG (REUTERS) - Casino dealers working in some of gambling hub Macau's most popular casinos are set to start industrial action on Saturday for the first time in the Chinese territory as discontent over salaries and working benefits spreads.
A group of dealers working for SJM Holdings, the gaming stalwart run by the family of former Macau king pin Stanley Ho, are planning to show up late for their shift while others are planning not to work any overtime, a union leader told Reuters.
"This will pause table game operations," said Ieong Mang Teng, a baccarat dealer and head of the Forefront of Macau Gaming, a labour group that has organised frequent protests over the past two months to demand higher pay and benefits.
Macau is racing to build eight new resorts in the next three years but labour strains look set to intensify. Workers are demanding higher pay and threatening strikes at a time when operators already face a labour shortage.
Macau is the only place in China where casino gambling is legal. The special administrative region boasts 35 casinos and relies on gaming taxes for more than 80 per cent of government revenues.
Home to a population of just over 500,000 people, the former Portuguese colony has one of the world's lowest jobless rates at 1.7 per cent. Rigid labour regulations that prohibit foreigners from working at the gaming tables mean casino operators have little choice but to raise wages to attract and retain staff.