Dockers offer a different viewpoint
Phila Siu and Stuart Lau
Three non-striking dockers from two contractors broke their silence yesterday in an interview arranged by strike-hit port operator Hongkong International Terminals, saying their working conditions are not as bad as the strikers say they are.
But their accounts were criticised by their striking counterparts, who said two were "princelings" of contractor Everbest Port Services owners and long entitled to much better pay.
Everbest dockers Lam Wai-yin and Yu Wai-wing, both stevedores, said the stevedores worked in pairs for every 24-hour shift with one usually working for six hours then resting for six hours on full pay.
Yu said he had about 10 days off in a month. Dockers usually did not work several days consecutively unless they wanted to make more money, he said. "My mother saw the media reports and asked if I really need to work so hard. Of course not," Yu said.
The duo said they made HK$1,090 a shift when they started. After eight years, Yu now makes HK$1,441 a shift, while Lam gets HK$1,315 after 10 years on the job.
A crane operator said he made about HK$600 a shift when he started seven years ago and HK$715 now. The man, who works at Lem Wing Transportation, also rejected claims that operators had to relieve themselves in a bucket. "If I really need it, I can report to the control [room]… and it will arrange a car to take me to the toilet," he said.
Yu acknowledged he was head of a four-man team while Lam was a co-ordinator for more than 100 dockers. But both stressed they still needed to work at the dock like the rest.
Strikers said their accounts were untrustworthy.
"I have never heard that we get paid to have a rest," Everbest docker Lau Sun-wing said.
Another striking Everbest docker called Lam a "princeling" and a "close deputy of Everbest's owners". He said Lam was a middle-management employee and his salary was calculated monthly, not daily like other dockers.