Drivers strike over fuel surcharge

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 November, 2007, 12:00am

More than 500 dump truck drivers held a one-day strike yesterday in an attempt to convince construction contractors to pay them a fuel surcharge of HK$1 per kilometre.

Lee Chi-fai, chairman of the Hong Kong Dumper Truck Drivers Association, which called the strike, said it was a warning to the Hong Kong Construction Association - which represents major contractors in the city.

'They have learned from the bar benders' strike, and they know they should listen to us if they do not wish to see an escalation of our action,' Mr Lee said.

He said yesterday's strike had crippled operations at a dozen construction sites in areas including Kwun Tong, Sha Tin and Sham Shui Po.

More than 100 trucks gathered outside the Tseung Kwan O dump - one of the four dump sites in Hong Kong for construction waste, at 2pm yesterday. About 70 trucks were forced onto Wan Po Road, blocking one lane of traffic.

Mr Lee said surging oil prices had eaten into truck owners' profits over the years.

'Seven years ago, fuel accounted for 28 per cent of our expenses. Now it has bounced to 58 per cent as oil prices have risen from HK$6.29 per litre in 2000 to the latest level of HK$9.72 per litre, but our [service] charge is still the same,' he said.

The group also demanded the government waive the fuel tax.

A Hong Kong Construction Association spokesman said it had taken note of the drivers' demands and needed time to allow member discussions before coming to a decision.

Meanwhile, the Kowloon Truck Merchants' Association - one of the six truck driver unions which has called for local transport companies to impose a fuel surcharge on clients - said up to 80 per cent of customers had adjusted to the new charge since the association made its proposal on November 12.