Last-ditch protests bid to lift compensation package

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 January, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 January, 1998, 12:00am

Chicken industry workers and political parties demonstrated yesterday in the hope of getting a last-minute increase in the poultry slaughter compensation package due to be finalised today.

The Democratic Party, together with dozens of chicken hawkers, spent a second night outside the Central Government Offices last night.

Some hawkers said they might consider a hunger strike from today if they did not see any changes to the government paper to be tabled to the provisional legislature for approval on Friday.

Earlier in the day, more than 100 protesters from the poultry industry marched around the offices.

Members of the 123 Democratic Alliance joined the group to petition Executive Councillors before their meeting which approved the Government's proposal.

The package proposes compensation of between $16 and $36 for each chicken slaughtered.

Chicken farmers and wholesalers can also apply for loans at a two per cent interest rate while retailers and transporters would receive ex-gratia payments of between $16,000 to $28,000.

But people from the industry and politicians generally criticised the package as not generous enough. The Hong Kong Progressive Alliance's Wong Siu-yee, leading chicken farmers to meet Secretary for Economic Services Stephen Ip Shu-kwan yesterday, said farmers wanted $46 per killed bird and the loan cap lifted.

Democratic Party vice-chairman Dr Yeung Sum said hawkers wanted increased ex-gratia payments, rent paid for operators in private markets for the duration of the ban, and payments equal to two-thirds of workers' median wages for three months.

Dr Yeung said they hoped to meet Tung Chee-hwa today. The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong said people in related industries, such as restaurant operators, should be included in the package.