Hutchison Whampoa is a Fortune 500 company and one of Hong Kong’s largest listed companies. It is 49.97 per cent owned by the Cheung Kong Group, a property company. Hutchison’s origins date back to two companies founded in the 19th century – Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock, established in 1863 by British merchant John Duflon Hutchison, and Hutchison International in 1877. In 1977, Hutchison became Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. Its operations include ports, with operations across Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, property and hotels, retailing through AS Watson & Co, PARKnSHOP supermarkets, Fortress electrical appliance stores, telecommunications through Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd. It is also involved in infrastructure through its infrastructure arm, Cheung Kong Infrastructure, and has an interest in Hongkong Electric Holdings (HEH), the sole electricity supplier to Hong Kong Island and Lamma Island. Hutchison is also a major shareholder of Husky Energy, one of Canada’s largest energy and energy related companies. It is headed by Li Ka-shing, Asia’s wealthiest man, who has been nicknamed “Superman” because of his investment prowess.
Training programme gives workers power to change
The workers responsible for maintaining critical connections in the city's power grid - and those who want to join their ranks - will soon have their first opportunity to get a professional certification thanks to a new training programme offered by Hongkong Electric.
The utility, which is working in collaboration with the Vocational Training Council (VTC), hopes the programme will attract new applicants to become cable jointers and improve the skills of the some 300 city residents already in the trade. The application window for the first course closes tomorrow.
Jointers are responsible for wiring and maintaining the 87,200 cable connection boxes scattered throughout the city. If a jointer failed to properly connect a cable or install a box, the resulting malfunction could disrupt power and affect residents and businesses alike.
'Their work is very important,' said Dr Ip Pak-nin, Hongkong Electric's transmission and distribution chief. 'They are our unsung heroes.'
Until now, there were no training programmes providing professional certification to members of the trade and aspiring jointers were trained on the job. That needed to change as society placed increasing demands for electricity and more stability in the grid, Ip said.
'We are delighted to co-operate with the VTC to provide this training programme, so the industry can have an opportunity to improve technical expertise,' Ip said. 'Through this programme we also hope to attract some new blood into professional cable jointing as a career.'
The nine-lesson programme costs HK$16,000. The twice-weekly classes last 21/2 hours each and provide lessons in cable-jointing theory and hands-on work. Each is limited to eight students in order to maintain a one-to-one instruction environment.
The utility hopes to train about two dozen new jointers each year. Advanced courses will be offered to those with at least three years of jointing experience.
'Although the work of a cable jointer is quite tiring, it is actually very meaningful because the results of their work have a direct impact on the city's power supply,' Ip said.
Robert Tse Sai-man, 36, said he has had to be meticulous to install more than 6,000 cable connection boxes without any accidents or incidents, earning him a coveted 'white sheet' status.
'I cannot afford to be slack on any detail, because it is those small details that affect the power supply,' Tse said.