CY Leung rejects collective bargaining as union tool
As dockers report for work, chief executive says that industry performance is the key to pay rises
Phila Siu and Tony Cheung
A collective bargaining law would not help the working class if the economy did not look good, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said yesterday.
His comment dealt a blow to dockers and unionists, who were calling for such legislation so they would not have to go on strike again to make themselves heard.
Leung was replying to unionist lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan's query in the Legislative Council's question-and-answer session.
Citing a pay rise given to construction workers, Leung said the business outlook was the key to better pay.
"It wasn't because of collective bargaining [that construction workers got higher pay], but because the industry is booming. If the city's economy and the dock industry are thriving, I believe bosses will pay higher salaries without you asking."
Lee disagreed with Leung's view, and argued that the pay rise for the construction sector was achieved only after a 36-day bar benders' strike in 2007.
"I can only say you are ignorant," Lee said.
Last year, the bar benders won a record pay rise of HK$1,700 a day in the 2014-15 financial year, 14.1 per cent more than in 2013-14.
Separately, the first batch of about 300 dockers employed by contractor Everbest Port Services finally reported back to work yesterday, and signed contracts that made their 9.8 per cent rise official.
However, 108 workers formerly employed by three other contractors still have no jobs
From now, most dockers will be making HK$1,445 per 24-hour shift, while the team head will get HK$1,511 and more senior staff will earn HK$1,571.
"It is not the end of our fight after you get inside - it is just a new beginning. We need to stay united. The union will fight till the end with all of you," Union of Hong Kong Dockers general secretary Stanley Ho Wai-hong said before the dockers boarded the coach to enter the terminals.
The union is still waiting for the Labour Department to say how many vacancies are available for the unemployed dockers.
Speaking on RTHK, former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang suggested that the business sector could learn a lesson from the dockers' strike, and think about whether they understood their employees' hardship.