Kwai Tsing dock workers strike

Kwai Tsing port business suffers 'huge' 11pc drop from dockers' strike

Container volume also hit at other ports here as shippers bypassed city, says freight association

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 May, 2013, 3:40am

The longest strike in Hong Kong's history caused a "huge" drop of almost 11 per cent in container volume at the Kwai Tsing Container Terminals last month.

Port operator Hongkong International Terminals - the target of the dock workers' 40-day strike which ended after they accepted a 9.8 per cent pay rise - said its operations had returned to normal.

But Dr Paul Tsui Hon-yan, chairman of the Association of Freight Forwarding & Logistics, said last month's drop was huge and that many shippers had chosen to use the Shenzhen port instead.

He said the drop had a knock-on effect across all terminals, contributing to a 12 per cent fall overall.

The strike started on March 28 and ended on Monday last week.

Preliminary figures from the Port Development Council yesterday showed that April throughput at the Kwai Tsing terminals was 1.334 million teu (20-foot equivalent units), down 10.7 per cent compared to the same period last year.

"The drop is a result of the strike. It was not a seasonal drop," Tsui said.

"We don't usually see a double-digit drop. The last time it happened would have been in 2009 during the financial tsunami," he added.

Throughput at all other terminals in Hong Kong, including the River Trade Terminal in Tuen Mun, went down 17.1 per cent to 400,000 teu in April.

In all, the decrease in the city's container throughput was 12.2 per cent last month. It declined 8.1 per cent in the first four months of the year.

Tsui said the strike had affected local terminals other than those in Kwai Tsing because if shipping companies were skipping the Kwai Tsing terminals, they would also skip others in the city.