Kwai Tsing dock workers strike

Home is where the fight is for 500 dockers

Protest camp is in the middle of nowhere but the strikers will stay 'until we get our due'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 April, 2013, 3:57am

Until a few days ago, the entrance to the Kwai Tsing terminals was merely a busy intersection used mainly by trucks. No one would linger for more than a minute as the terminal is in the middle of nowhere.

Today it has become the second home and battlefield for the 500 dock workers who are risking it all for a 17 per cent pay rise which they say is long overdue.

"We will stay here until we get what we should get," said 56-year-old Ho Leung-hing, who has been on strike from the first day last Thursday.

The strike started inside the terminal area last week but the port operator at the centre of the controversy, Hongkong International Terminals (HIT), won an injunction on Monday to force the striking workers out of the terminal. The company said the strike was not peaceful and the strikers were trespassing.

On Tuesday, with the support of their unions, the strikers set up about 40 tents and four portable toilets outside the terminal. It is hardly a comfortable home but Ho said he has not thought about giving up. "There are trucks going past here at night and there are noises. But after all these years working under the harsh environment inside the terminal, living here outside is fine," Ho said.

He said resting in this "second home" is actually better than resting inside the terminal when at work because they can at least sleep inside the tents and not on the floor.

Supporters have been donating boxes of biscuits, fruit and meals every day for the past eight days, a gesture that has deeply touched one of the strikers.

"The lunch boxes are even better than what our contractors gave us. They only gave us rice, eggs and Spam. Now we are getting barbecued pork," the 55-year-old worker said.

Yesterday there were at least 50 boxes of food piled up at the "second home", which is being managed by the unionists.

The worker said he was not only touched by the food donations, but also by the support of Hongkongers.

Throughout the strike, he said many people, young and old, have visited him and the other workers although they do not know one another at all.

His family has also given him support, which he said is one of the main reasons he is continuing with the strike.

"I go home and take a shower every two to three days - and my son makes fun of me by saying I am always on television. But I know he says that by way of encouragement," he said.