A group of coach drivers asked Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng on Monday to tide them over during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic.
Representatives of the group handed a petition letter to an official outside Government Headquarters, accompanied by veteran lawmaker-cum-unionist José Maria Pereira Coutinho, who heads the Macau Civil Servants Association (ATFPM) but often also defends the interests of workers from the private sector.
According to a statement sent to the Macau Post Daily, the group says that it is representing 400 families who are in “dire straits” due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The petition says that the drivers are paid a basic monthly wage of merely 2,000 patacas a month by travel agencies and that they have to share their “commission” per coach passenger with the agencies and tour guides. The petition says that the drivers’ income situation is “extremely unjust”.
The drivers also say that they don’t have the right to paid holidays and financial assistance in paying their medical bills. They are urging the government to draft new labour rights legislation that would result in an increase in their basic wage.
The petition also says that many drivers have been fired since the end of August last year.
According to the petition, the drivers’ situation has further worsened by the COVID-19 outbreak, saying that most of them are unemployed and are facing financial difficulties.
In the petition, the drivers ask Ho for the “exceptional measure” of granting them interest subsidies on loans and allowing them to withdraw money from their accounts of the non-mandatory central provident fund system. Normally, money can only be withdrawn from the accounts when the holder is at least 65 years old.
The petitioners also request the government to clamp down on mainlanders illegally working as coach drivers in Macau.