Striking dockers make surprise march to Government House
Dockers and their supporters turn up in their thousands to protest chief executive's inaction
Johnny Tam, Jolie Ho and Stuart Lau
The striking dockers last night made an unannounced move to mark their walkout's first month by marching to Government House, although their target, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, had yet to return from his Beijing trip.
Chaos ensued and traffic lanes on Garden Road were blocked when the dockers tried to break police blockades on their route that started from the Cheung Kong Center in Central, where hundreds of strikers and their supporters had earlier gathered for their second public rally.
Strike organiser Stanley Ho Wai-hong, of the Union of Hong Kong Dockers, claimed 3,000 joined the march against Leung's inaction in the past month. The police put the number at 600.
Police said the protesters informed them of the plan only in the afternoon, rather than a week in advance as required. Deputy Central district commander Chan Yee-lai said they would gather evidence to see whether there was any legal liability.
Meanwhile, the High Court granted an injunction banning the strikers from entering the Cheung Kong Center.
"We have no intention of entering the tower to protest, so the ruling won't affect the dockers' determination," Ho said.
A war of words over the strike at the Kwai Tsing Container Terminals escalated yesterday, with the Li Ka-shing empire publicly slamming unionist lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan, a key leader in the walkout. Hutchison Whampoa hit out at the unionists' "Cultural Revolution-like criticism".
Hutchison - the parent company of port operator Hongkong International Terminals (HIT), whose contractors employ the 450 striking dockers - for the first time took out advertisements in most Chinese-language newspapers to publish a statement.
Titled "Behind the industrial action", the statement said: "The Cultural Revolution-like criticism has led the industrial and business sectors to face unprecedented pressure, causing a domino effect". It accused Lee and other unionists of "stirring hostility to the rich and encouraging verbal abuse to hurt and vilify Li Ka-shing". Lee said: "The strikers are only fighting for a pay rise. There is room for negotiation."
Also yesterday, strike-hit HIT contractor Global Stevedoring Service told the Labour Department it would bring forward its closure to Tuesday, from June 30.