Some strikers feel let down by their union

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2007, 12:00am

Some members of the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions regret the decision to back away from strike action earlier this month, arguing that it is losing its long-standing popularity among bar benders to its rival union.

Almost three weeks into the labour action, the pro-democracy Confederation of Trade Unions appears to have gained the upper hand in the unofficial popularity race among the workers. The union's founder and lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan said there were already a number of workers demanding the CTU set up another union for bar benders - which they think outperforms the FTU - their only union representative over the past two decades.

Workers questioned by the South China Morning Post during Sunday's march said they were disappointed with the FTU's performance.

Two said the FTU was keeping workers in the dark about the progress of wage talks, while another criticised the FTU for withdrawing from the strike when talks broke down earlier this month. 'It is the CTU who brought us onto the street, where has the FTU been these days?' said worker Chan To-siu.

FTU chairman Wong Kwok-kin admitted some workers had vented their anger at union officials at a meeting yesterday, but he would not say whether dropping strike action had been a bad move.

'The decision is made against a complicated background - we don't want the workers torn between two unions with utterly different styles - so we backed down,' he said.

Mr Wong said the FTU had met different workers yesterday trying to gauge their bottom line on pay increments before holding talks with employers later this week.

Meanwhile, some workers believe the unions have focused too much attention on the strike instead of concentrating on the looming problem of the registration of construction workers, which is required to be completed by the end of August.

The Construction Workers Registration Authority said inspectors would be sent to construction sites on September 1 to make sure unregistered workers were not working. As of Sunday, 182,017 of the 271,500 construction workers had been registered.