Striking dock workers marched to the headquarters of Hutchison Whampoa in Central on Thursday demanding to meet with company chairman Li Ka-shing.
About 100 workers shouted slogans at the door of Hutchison House on Harcourt Road, calling on the property and telecoms tycoon to intervene in a three-week long pay dispute. Security guards formed a line and set up metal barricades to stop the protestors.
The workers want port operator Hongkong International Terminals (HIT), a subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa, owned by Li, to address their demands at future meetings. The dockers employers are contractors who work directly for HIT.
The attempt to speak to Li came after strikers had spent their first night in tents they set up outside Cheung Kong Center, where Li has an office, after moving their strike base from Kwai Tsing container terminals on Wednesday.
Moving part of their camp to the Cheung Kong Center came after earlier talks with their employers' contractors broke down.
Wong Yu-loy, a strike organiser from the Confederation of Trade Unions, said Li had a responsibility to help resolve the dispute because he was ultimately in charge.
Li has refused to comment on the dispute or say whether he would be willing to meet with the workers. While leaving his home on Thursday morning, the billionaire, dressed in a white golf outfit and cap, said: “I won’t say anything on this. Sorry.”
The strikers are seeking a 17 per cent pay rise and improvements to working conditions. Contractors are offering to a 7 per cent rise and an increased shift payment.
Meanwhile, Hongkong International Terminals filed a writ to the High Court to sue Next Magazine for libel over a report it published earlier.
The report dated April 4 dealt with the supposed relationship between HIT general manager Gerry Yim Lui-fai and the contractors that hire the dockers. After the report was published Lam denied any connection between him and the contractors.
In a latest twist to the three-week dispute, contractor Global Stevedoring Service said on Thursday afternoon it would stop operating at the end of June when its service contract with a port operator ended.
Global is one of five HIT contractors. It has 170 workers, most of whom are machinery operators, and 130 are now on strike.
Its decision to shut down came after workers and contractors failed to reach an agreement on pay rises and other benefits during three previous meetings.
We find ourselves unable to meet the workers’ demand for a 20 per cent pay rise. [And,] the workers do not accept our proposal,” it said in a statement.