Dockers to return to work amid post-strike dispute
Strikers angered after Everbest representative blames walkout for the loss of two berths
The first batch of more than 300 dockers who were on strike will report back to work today, but arrangements for the remaining 108 have still to be settled.
The Union of Hong Kong Dockers gave an update on the state of the workers last night after some of Everbest Port Services' striking dockers threatened not to return to work.
Everbest worker Leung Kam-cheung said that during a Tuesday dinner with company representatives, one of them made comments on the 40-day action that angered the strikers present.
Leung quoted the representative as saying the strike, which started on March 28, cost Everbest two of its five berths in three terminals at the Kwai Tsing port.
The berths were taken over by Comcheung Human Resources, which was little affected by the walkout, as Everbest lacked dockers to do the work.
"[The representative] blamed us for the loss of the berths. About 80 of the 200 dockers at the dinner were so angry that they stormed out of the restaurant," Leung said. "He also said some of us would have to work for Comcheung since Everbest no longer had enough vacancies."
Port operator Hongkong International Terminals (HIT) would let Comcheung keep the two berths when its contracts were renewed, he quoted the representative as saying.
An HIT spokeswoman said last night that it was reviewing its operational needs and would consider all relevant developments in renewing its contracts.
Leung said the representative did not say if Everbest would fire its redundant dockers before they joined Comcheung or if they had to resign of their own accord. "If we quit the job ourselves, we will not get severance pay."
Some strikers were also upset by the representative's comment that Everbest would offer no more allowances on top of the 9.8 per cent raise they accepted on Monday, Leung said.
But yesterday afternoon, after a lengthy meeting with the strikers, union spokesman Stanley Ho Wai-hong announced that the Everbest dockers would report back at the Kwai Tsing Container Terminals at noon today.
He said, however, that a small group of Everbest strikers who were still in disagreement over the new arrangements might not turn up.
It remains unclear when the remaining 108 strikers - from Global Stevedoring Service, Pui Kee Stevedore and Lem Wing Transportation - will return to work. Unionist Chan Chiu-wai said the Labour Department told him it had found only about 80 vacancies for them so far.