We should not be surprised to learn that SkyCity casino staff are spraying themselves with insect repellent and are wearing flea collars to keep from being bitten on the job.
“Flea” – as Wikipedia will tell you – is the common name for insects of the order Siphonaptera which are wingless insects with mouthparts adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood.
The “siphon’ bit of “Siphonaptera” gives a powerful clue to the etymology.
As any petrol thief knows, siphoning involves sucking (before gravity kicks in and does the rest).
But when it comes to casinos, things become confusing.
The suckers could be the customers.
Or they could be the casino staff whose work results in some customers being sucked dry.
Either way, Alf is by no means astonished to learn from The Herald that Sky City employees have complained about infestations on the casino floor for years.
Poetic justice, you could say.
Despite the carpet and areas around gaming machines being cleaned regularly, the problem has persisted.
Mind you, the information comes from a trade unionist, and trade unionists have their own ways of drawing blood.
In this case, it happens to be Unite Union national director Mike Treen, who said workers had been complaining to SkyCity management, as well as the union, for years.
The last complaint the union received was at the end of last year, during negotiations over pay issues.
“We get complaints about it periodically. There’s no recognition that some people are affected more than others,” he said. “They have some sort of cleaning process going on. [But] it doesn’t seem to be working.”
Treen said he knew of a number of workers who attached flea collars to their ankles to stop being bitten.
“Some of them have them on to try and prevent being bitten. Some people react quite badly – [they] get really bad spots and it can affect their health and then result in time off.
“It’s definitely a health and safety issue.”
Maybe some sort of collar would be good for the customers, too.
As it happens, SkyCity says the casino floors are cleaned every day.
Management staff were not aware of any complaints about insect bites.
“Most large carpeted buildings that are frequented by the public encounter some degree of an issue with biting insects,” a SkyCity spokeswoman said.
“We have thorough proactive pest control measures in place and are confident that we are providing a safe and healthy facility for our staff and customers.”
But Alf can say with enormous confidence that the pest control measures do not work.
He can say this because he has seen Labour supporters go into the casino.
Because he has seen them on subsequent occasions, it is obvious the pest control measures did not eradicate them.