• Fri
  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 12:52pm

Kwai Tsing dock workers strike

On March 28, 2013, dock workers at Kwai Tsing took industrial action seeking a 17 per cent pay rise. The port is operated by Hongkong International Terminals (HIT).

NewsHong Kong

Dock workers' labour dispute cuts port cargo 'in half'

Vessels are skipping Hong Kong altogether or dropping part of their load elsewhere before arriving at the terminal, industry insiders say

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 April, 2013, 12:17pm

The volume of cargo handled by port operator Hongkong International Terminals (HIT) has halved in the 12 days since dockers walked off the job, as more vessels turn to other ports, insiders say.

This came as HIT appeared to have softened its stance on its dispute with the workers at Kwai Tsing. It had earlier refused to meet the dockers, saying they were employed by the contractors and not HIT.

A spokeswoman said last night that although HIT does not have a direct relationship with the workers hired by contractors, it was "open to sitting in at meetings which may be arranged by the Labour Department between the contractors and the workers".

A shipping industry insider ... said the amount of cargo HIT handled ... had dropped 40 to 50 per cent because many vessels called on other ports such as those in Shenzhen instead

A shipping industry insider who declined to be named said the amount of cargo HIT handled in its five terminals had dropped 40 to 50 per cent because many vessels called on other ports such as those in Shenzhen instead.

And the vessels that came were dropping part of their cargo in other ports before calling on Hong Kong so that unloading at HIT's terminals would be faster, he said.

Another insider, Dr Paul Tsui Hon-yan, chairman of the Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics, said HIT's operating capacity was down 20 to 30 per cent compared with the pre-strike period. "HIT can normally handle 28 to 30 containers an hour. But now, it can handle only 21 an hour," he said. He also noted that there were usually 44 cranes working at the HIT terminals but after the strike began the operator had only enough workers to operate 34 cranes.

Tsui's association gathered figures from shipping companies and found that about 120,000 containers were now stuck at the port. The delay in handling imported goods is between one and 10 days, and between two and six days for exported goods.

Shippers' Council executive director Sunny Ho Lap-kee feared that if the strike persisted, some vessels would never return to Hong Kong.

In his first comment on the strike, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the government would do its best to get all the parties involved to meet.

Separately, president Wong Kwai-ting of the HIT Group Employees General Union, which represents 300 dockers directly employed by HIT, said he met the company's officials yesterday about the union's demand for overtime pay of 1.5 times the current wages.

He said HIT offered three options, including a rate of only 1.2 times. The other option was a progressive rate based on the dockers' rank but most dockers would get only 1.1 times wages in overtime pay. The last option was a day off for every 32 hours of overtime worked.

Wong said that although this was "humiliating", he would talk to the dockers before deciding on the next step.



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This article is now closed to comments

hard times !
There is a conspiracy saying that the Leung administration deliberately takes a carefree attitude towards the strike staged at Kwai Chung Container Terminal so as to act as a response towards the recent remarks made by HIT's big boss,Li Ka-shing for sneering at C.Y.Leung for his lies (not telling truth), not doing any concrete work and no contributioin towards the territory.What a vicious trick played by C.Y.if the rumour is proved to be true----a retaliation aimed at Li's image and face as the strike has disclosed the indifference of Hutchison Whampoa which its general manager,the right-handed man of Li,Fok Kin-ling this year earns as much as 180 million Hongkong dollars---continue to be the No.1 salaryman in town and the biggest tax-payer in income tax as well while the workers outsourced by HIT--(owned by Whampoa Hutchison )got poor working environment and miserable pay ! What a sham !. Our society has deteriorated into a 'the rich get richer while the poor the poorer' one !
32 hours of overtime worked only gets a day (24 hours) off ? What kind of option is this ? You called that overtime pay ? It is INDEED humiliating ! ! But again, this is typical of of HWL to maximize the profit of LKS at the expense of common poor workers.
hard times !
It is learnt that now the cargoes handled by the HIT (owned by Li Ka-shing's Hutchison Whampoa)has halved since the strike began 12 days ago.Many vessels turned to other terminals to unload their cargoes or just left hafl of their load here in Hong Kong. What a serious hit to our logistics industry.Yet the HIT which outsource businesses to contractors (or insource,I should say since that nasty guy named Yim Yui-fei has been found to be one of the directors of the contractors involved in this strike !) The HIT outsourced/s its businesses together with its responsibilities as well. The best measure to be taken now is our Labour bureau and dept. to intervene---asking/forcing the HIT to tell the contractors involved to hold joint meetings with the strike dockers' representatives and their trade union to solve the issue or our image in the container terminal industry will be adversely affected.
This is taken from news reported on SCMP...."Laws stipulate prisoners work not more than six hours a day with no more than two hours of overtime.".....Even Mainland China has law like this for Labour Prisoners' Camp, which is much better than the working conditions of the dock workers in Hong Kong.
Such a long strike within one of the most crucial industry sectors for Hong Kong will bring many SME's to the brink of bankruptcy because they cannot fulfill their contracts in delivering and/or receiving their goods timely.
It's time the government steps in to bring fairness for the dockers and social responsibility to the contractors / port operators. Such things cannot be left exclusively to the market forces.


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