Protecting the workers

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The government is considering providing MOP14 million (US$1.7 million) to live poultry businesses as financial support for employers to compensate laid off employees in the sector, the President of the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM), José Tavares, said yesterday.
The statements were made after a meeting yesterday between the department and 50 representatives of the live poultry sales sector.
“With the business’ employees expected to be laid off from their sales businesses. the government intends to grant this support, so that employers can compensate the employees,” the IACM President informed.
An outbreak of avian influenza in the city in February led to the complete suspension of live poultry sales from May 1 of this year.
The department informed that there are currently 61 employers and 154 employees in the live poultry sales sector, representing a possible compensation of MOP90,909 per employee.
The workers will also be provided with an extra amount representing two month’s salary.
“This pecuniary compensation should be mandatory for the employers, but since they might be unwilling or not able to provide it, the government wants to lend a hand,” Mr. Tavares informed.
The government will also provide compensation of MOP200 per culled poultry to the businesses, with around MOP6 million to be granted in June.
According to the IACM head, the amount was reached after calculating the number of employees, the average salary, and the period of work provided, with the proposal being accepted by the sector representatives.

Paying the bosses
The compensation to be provided to the employers for the cessation of their businesses was also discussed, with representatives proposing compensation of a possible MOP10 million per business, which the IACM considered as “unreasonable”.
The sector representatives were also given a proposal of support, in case they would like to change their business activity, with a questionnaire being provided after the meeting for each salesperson to indicate if they were willing to undergo such a change.
According to Tavares, a similar arrangement as that provided by the Hong Kong government – an MOP800,000 amount per salesperson for support – was being discussed, with the change in living expenses being considered.
“The compensation could be a considerable amount, with the employers not being able or willing to provide it. But IACM is willing to guarantee support,” he added.
Mr. Tavares said that with the people in the sector being generally elderly and having been in the sector for many years, finding a different job was a more difficult task, so the possibility of maintaining the same market stand but selling a different kind of produce was also presented.