Port rejects dockers' pay claims
Union leaders hit back at 'ridiculous' remark and challenge terminal bosses to show them the figures as strikers continue fight for 17pc rise
Phila Siu, Stuart Lau and Patsy Moy
The strike-hit port operator said it had looked into dock workers' pay for the past decade and dismissed claims they are paid less now than a decade ago.
But the strike organiser branded the remarks by Hongkong International Terminals' (HIT) managing director Gerry Yim Lui-fai yesterday as "ridiculous", and questioned whether he had really looked at the records.
Yim made his remarks on a radio programme as 450 dock workers and hundreds of supporters continued to gather outside the Kwai Tsing container terminals.
The strike organiser is also planning to ask the Labour Department to prosecute the contractors who threatened to fire workers who refused to return to work.
Yim said he had asked contractors to give him the workers' pay records for the past 10 years.
"There were reports saying that the workers have not had pay rises in the past decade. That is wrong. It's also wrong that their pay is now lower than in 1997 or during Sars," he added, without revealing how much the workers had been paid.
Union of Hong Kong Dockers spokesman Stanley Ho Wai-hong called Yim's remarks ridiculous and false.
"I don't believe him. I have no idea what kind of records he has looked at," he said. Ho urged Yim to pass the documents to the union to verify his claims.
The union said earlier that some workers were paid HK$1,456 for a 24-hour shift in 1995, which went down to HK$1,150 in 1996, and only went up to HK$1,315 in 2011.
The dockers, on the sixth day of their strike yesterday, vowed not to resume work until they received a 17 per cent pay rise from the contractors, who supply workers to the 12 berths at the four terminals HIT operates.
Yim said he had asked the employers to offer a 5 per cent rise when HIT renews their contracts, but the workers said it was not enough.
"Our relationship with [the contractors] is a love-hate one," Yim said.
"It's love because we need them for the workers. And I hate them because they are making us lose HK$5 million a day [because of the strike]."
Another strike organiser, Chan Chiu-wai, of the Confederation of Trade Unions, said no dockers had told contractors they would go to work yesterday, despite threats that they would be dismissed.
On Monday, HIT and COSCO-HIT Terminals (HK), a joint venture of COSCO Pacific and HIT, won an interim injunction against 14 unionists and any other demonstrators entering the four terminals.
The port operators will ask the judge to continue the injunction until a further order is made when the parties return to the court on Friday, said George Lamplough, lawyer for HIT and COSCO-HIT Terminals (HK).
The Labour Department said it was highly concerned about the dispute and had intervened.