Striking dockers agree to meet key contractor alone
Striking dock workers say they have decided to meet the contractor at the centre of their month-long pay dispute, without the other contractors involved.
The Union of Hong Kong Dockers had insisted it would not resume talks if they were only with contractor Everbest Port Services, which employs 300 of the 450 workers who walked off the job on March 28.
But union spokesman Stanley Ho Wai-hong yesterday said they were willing to go back to the negotiating table with Everbest in an attempt to break the deadlock. "We are not giving in … we are trying to resolve the dispute," Ho said.
Another contractor caught up in the dispute, Global Stevedoring Services, said it would close down after tomorrow. It employs about 130 of the striking dockers.
The union also hopes to talk to the port operator, Hongkong International Terminals (HIT), about the pay package and working conditions to be offered by the contractors who take over Global's work.
A representative of HIT was present at the last three meetings, but only as an observer.
The union is seeking a pay rise of about 20 per cent. Ho said yesterday there was room for negotiation but any offer must be a "double-digit figure".
Separately yesterday, about 10 supporters of the striking workers urged tourists not to check in to a North Point hotel owned by Li Ka-shing, whose Hutchison Whampoa is the parent company of port operator HIT.
One of those outside the hotel was a tourist himself. Sanjay Garla, 36 of the United States, came to Hong Kong two weeks ago as a tourist and learned about the dispute while watching the local television news.
He decided to show his support for the striking dockers by handing out fliers to tourists outside the Harbour Grand hotel in Wan Chai, urging them not to stay there. "By checking in, you are saying that this richest guy in Asia [Li] has the right to exploit the workers," Garla said.
Hutchison Whampoa, whose subsidiary owns the hotel, said in a statement that the protesters were "troublemakers" for harassing its customers.