Oct 30, 2013

    MBS workers to finally join union

    AFTER two years of talks, Marina Bay Sands (MBS) has agreed to open its doors for a union to offer membership to its workers.

    The nod from the integrated resort was described as "a significant breakthrough" by the Attractions, Resorts and Entertainment Union (AREU).

    The union had taken steps that could have forced the issue with the holding of a secret ballot among the workers.

    But it did not come to that, said AREU and MBS yesterday at the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

    The terms of the agreement, however, do not provide for collective bargaining and negotiations over salary.

    These terms are similar to those agreed on with Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore's other integrated resort, which had given the green light to AREU in 2011.

    MBS, owned by United States company Las Vegas Sands, is among Singapore's biggest employers, with more than 9,000 workers.

    Now, more than 80 per cent of them are eligible for general branch membership with the union.

    The company will pay their membership fees.

    In a joint statement, the union and MBS said a committee will be set up by unionised employees to discuss issues like skills upgrading with the management.

    AREU president Hassan Abdullah told reporters the partnership is an extra platform the individual MBS worker can use to represent his or her interests.

    MBS president and chief executive George Tanasijevich said the MOU would result in more social and recreational benefits for the employees.

    He added: "In this labour market where we have very low unemployment, it's key to take care of your people and make sure you retain them.''

    Earlier this year, AREU had, in an aggressive bid to recruit MBS workers, set up booths at the resort's doorstep and signed up 200 to 300 of them.

    It also served MBS an official claim for recognition, which could have led to a secret ballot among its workers had the company rejected it.

    When asked why the discussions took so long, Mr Tanasijevich said: "We have developed as a company to the point where this was the next logical step in the enhancement of our employee-employer relationship.''

    Mr Hassan, on the other hand, said: "It's the norm...Every company will ask for time.''