The pay dispute embroiling striking dockers and port operators has grown into a wider movement with dozens of groups coming forward at the Kwai Chung container terminals, partly thanks to campaigns on social networks.
While there has been no progress on the workers' demand for a 17 per cent pay rise, the movement has stirred public awareness, organisers and support groups said.
Strike organisers said that as of 9pm last night, they had collected about HK$650,000 in donations. Each of the 450 strikers would be given HK$1,000 in cash to make up part of their lost wages over the past six days, they said. About HK$300,000 had been given out by last night.
On Monday, supporters massed at the container terminals in Kwai Chung before the 1,000-strong crowd was ordered to leave under a court injunction issued later that night.
Chan Chiu-wai, an organising co-ordinator with the Confederation of Trade Unions, said the big crowd of support for the dockers on Monday had been unexpected.
In the past, Chan said, labour disputes usually involved only the union and the workers.
But this time, the social networking site Facebook had played a key role in rousing support. A table comparing the dockers' wages throughout the years, prepared by the CTU, was widely posted on the site.
In just three days it was shared among almost 4,000 users, and 2,300 clicked the like button.
"Frankly, it was beyond my expectations," Chan said.
One of the supporting groups is Left21, organiser of the original Occupy Central protest at the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank headquarters.
A member, Chan Ka-ming, said he believed wider social involvement would be necessary for the workers to win.
Several university student unions had also been supportive. Chinese University student union president Eason Chung Yiu-wa said they had been calling for food and cash donations.
"There is a heated atmosphere of discussion on the issue on campus," Chung said.
But the Beijing-friendly Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) has been absent. "The [CTU] did not let us know before their action," FTU lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin said. He said his party had been negotiating a 10 per cent rise with Hongkong International Terminals, which since the strike had denied direct involvement in the pay dispute.