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article imageMacau mother takes on world's richest for casino workers rights

By Simon Crompton     Sep 3, 2014 in World
Macau casino worker Cloee Chau has led casino workers in protests seven times this year, seeking to secure better working conditions and higher pay.
Chau, 34, says she realized something had to be done about working conditions after suffering from a severe coughing fit caused by thick second-hand smoke in 2012.
“I was scared,” she said. “If I died, what would happen to my daughters?”
Not long after, Chau formed a union, with one request: Cleaner air. Her employer — Wynn Macau, Ltd. — decided to ignore that request, however, and continue operations as normal..
This brought on more problems for the tycoons in charge of the world’s richest gaming hub. Chau and her union saw little choice but to escalate their operation, and have since formed a formidable organization with broad support and the backbone to move forward.
The union has staged seven demonstrations this year, with turnout of over 1,400 at their latest event, held last week.
While the billionaires in charge of Macau’s gambling houses aren’t yet inclined to take note, the very profits that gave them such status very well might be at risk. It is, after all, those who put the executive plan into motion that make it possible to collect revenue in the first place. If those crucial player are unhappy, the operation suffers as a whole.
And if those crucial players are absent, there is no revenue at all. Investors are well aware of this: Wynn Macau’s shares dropped 2 percent about a week ago after Chau threatened strikes.
It is hard to assume that Chau is bluffing. “We don’t rule out strikes or violent actions,” she said after last week’s event. These are not the words of an armchair critic.
A general ban on smoking on the casino floor has been passed, but Chau and her Macau Gaming Industry Frontline Worker’s Union are fighting to extend this ban to VIP rooms. They also seek to secure wage increases. Of course those playing Europa Casino can avoid all these difficulties, by gambling from the comfort of their homes.
The Union’s goals, ultimately, are not here-and-now. Chau said her daughters will likely enter the casino industry if they choose to live in Macau. If so, she is adamant not to “let what my generation is going through become their future,”
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