The potentially massive growth of the casino industry represents a chance to create thousands of jobs and improve the UK’s skills base, union leaders have insisted.
The Government’s proposals for new gambling laws, which mix new levels of regulation with the unprecedented development of resort casinos, have attracted widespread criticism. MPs, tabloid newspapers and business groups such as the CBI, claim the bill could lead to increased crime, chronic addiction and major money laundering.
But the GMB and Transport and General Workers Union, which represent casino workers in the UK, said the focus has been placed on the wrong area.
“The growth will create between 50,000 and 100,000 jobs – that seems to have been sidetracked,” said Paul Kenny, regional organiser at the GMB. “We see this as a great opportunity for job creation and training,” Kenny added. “If we are serious about things such as the 2012 Olympics, we need a commitment to training local people.”
Casino workers from the US, invited to the UK by the GMB to talk about working in the industry, said many of their large casino operators were focused on improving employees’ skills – for example, with training academies. And they said that many of the skills taught were transferable.
Despite dark warnings about the industry’s exploitation of low-paid workers, the large casino operators have already made assurances on employment terms and union agreements, Kenny said.
“We are not prepared to allow this industry to grow unless it takes social responsibilities seriously,” he said.
“Part of that social responsibility is training people and giving them top-dollar wages,” he added. “There are not going to be any minimum wage jobs in this industry –full-stop.”