Port operators at the Kwai Tsing Container Terminals have been granted an interlocatory injunction to bar 14 unionists and unauthorised demonstrators from remaining in the four terminals in Kwai Chung.
Hong Kong International Terminals and COSCO-HIT Terminals (Hong Kong) Limited were granted the injunction which takes immediate effect and lasts until all parties concerned return to court on Friday for a further hearing.
Making his ruling, Court of First Instance judge Patrick Li Hon-leung said he needed to strike a balance between the constitutional right to strike as well as freedom of expression enjoyed by the unionists and the private right of the enjoyment of the terminals by the port operators and other users. But Li said the constitutional rights of the defendants were not absolute.
On Monday afternoon, about 1,000 dockers and their supporters were gathered at Kwai Tsing Container Terminals as they awaited the result of the port operators’ attempt to get a court order barring them from the terminal.
The dispute, now in its fifth day, began on 28 March when the dockers went on strike demanding a 17 per cent pay rise. The dock workers said they have had more pay cuts in the last decade than pay rises, and that they are making less than they did a decade ago.
The port operators, Hongkong International Terminals and COSCO-HIT Terminals, put up notices at the terminal on Monday morning, telling the dockers and their supporters to leave by noon. But the operator took no action once the deadline passed.
In the High Court on Monday afternoon, the port operators sought an injunction against 14 unionists, workers and any unauthorised people, including lawmaker "Long Hair" Lee Cheuk-yan, from entering, remaining inside, and preventing or obstructing access to the port’s four terminals.
Some of the unionists and their supporters, including Leung Kwok-hung, were present in court.
Court of First Instance Judge Patrick Li Hon-leung hearing the case on Monday asked the unionists and their supporters to restrain themselves.
"Please respect the court. Even if you want to chant a slogan, your targeted audience won’t hear it," Li said.
The judge will decide on whether or not to grant the injunction at 9pm.