Macau Fisherman’s Wharf employees have told IAG they have been sacked as a result of the business “streamlining” its structure.
A text message sent by Fisherman’s Wharf to its staff, seen by IAG, reads, “In view of the ongoing streamlining of the company (Fisherman’s Wharf), your employment relationship will be terminated with effect from 21 August 2022.”
Some of the employees who were notified of their termination said those who were fired are food and beverage (F&B) workers and most of them are Macau residents. One staff member said, “The company has compensated us for our termination … this is the second time the company has made redundancies during the outbreak.”
Another staff member said, “More than 10 staff members in the restaurant department have been notified of their termination of contract and they are discussing to go to the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) tomorrow (8 August) to review their dismissal.”
An exit document provided by the employee shows that the document was issued by the director of the department and that the affected employee had not less than 10 years of service.
An economic commentator, who asked not to be named, told IAG that with many Macau companies facing serious losses and debts due to the prolonged economic downturn and ongoing travel restrictions, letting staff go was seen as one of the most effective means of keeping costs down and ultimately avoiding going out of business altogether.
“In a poor economic environment, large companies will choose to fire their employees with less seniority first as the compensation [to be paid out as a result of the termination] is not high … companies will try to hire senior staff to help them get back on track when the economy improves at a future time.”
Following the COVID-19 outbreak in Macau on 18 June, restaurants were banned from serving dine-in food from 23 June until 2 August. During this period, businesses such as beauty salons and gyms also had to suspend their operations, while all casino gaming floors were closed for 12 days.
During the two-and-a-half-year pandemic, the Macau government has repeatedly appealed to enterprises not to dismiss their employees. However, the government’s insistence on lockdowns and other strict policies has had a serious economic impact on enterprises, with Macau’s gambling revenue falling to a new low of just MOP$398 million in July – down 95.3% on the equivalent month in 2019, before the pandemic. Many enterprises are experiencing severe financial problems.
In the face of industry restructuring, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Macau Legend, Melinda Chan Mei Yi, said on 12 June that the company would make “modest adjustments” by reducing its workforce by 16%.
IAG recently interviewed veteran gaming practitioner Lam Kai Kong, who believes that concessionaires are likely to lay off staff next year due to a series of rights inequalities between the concessionaires and the government, and the impact of the epidemic generally.
The operator of Fisherman’s Wharf, Macau Legend, has reached an agreement with SJM to extend its contract until 31 December, during which time the gaming areas of Macau Legend’s casinos will be managed by SJM. This is in line with the “management company” provisions of the new Macau gaming law, which came into force in late June.