AS Watson

Watsons workers call off strike and resume duties

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 July, 2012, 12:00am


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Watsons Water delivery workers ended a two-and-a-half-day strike yesterday after the company promised to address manpower shortages and an increase in outsourcing - which the union described as the 'core issues' behind the strike.

After a one-hour meeting with the management in the morning, the strikers ended their sit-in at 3pm, and resumed their duties.

Union organiser Leung Wai-yum said: 'We understand that more time should be given to the company to settle the contract issues [of outsourced staff] and to review the overall staffing.'

Tension between the two sides was at its height on Thursday night, as the union said the company, a subsidiary of tycoon Li Ka-shing's Hutchison Whampoa, 'refused to talk about the core issues'. The workers threatened to remain on strike for a third day.

The deliverymen were still disappointed by the company's refusal to make a one-off monthly attendance allowance of HK$2,000, payable for three months, into an annual reward.

'The outcome is a bit different from what we expected, and some of our demands still haven't been satisfied,' Leung said. 'But the two sides have made some concessions to settle the dispute.'

A spokesman for the company said the proposal to provide the monthly attendance allowance was accepted and it would be granted to all delivery workers.

'We have paid attention to the staff views on salary and work arrangements, and agreed to maintain continuous dialogue to discuss these matters,' he said.

The union said about 150 workers took part in the strike, and since the action began deliveries had dropped by half, to 20,000 bottles of distilled water a day.

Watsons Water workers have been vocal on labour rights issues before. Strikes were organised in July 2008 and August 2009 after disagreement over delivery workers' commission, a cap on working hours and performance bonuses.