Four contractors offered their workers a 9.8 per cent pay rise last night in what they said was their final bid to bring an end to the dockers' strike, which enters its 38th day today.
The contractors - Everbest Port Services, Pui Kee Stevedore Company, Lem Wing Transportation and Comcheung Human Resources - said they would not engage in more talks over the pay dispute.
The striking dockers, who earlier demanded a 20 per cent rise but later softened their stance to ask for "a double-digit rate", said they would discuss the proposal.
Stanley Ho Wai-hong, spokesman for the Union of Hong Kong Dockers, said the 530 strikers would not accept it until a general meeting was held today.
Non-striking dockers had been offered the increase since Wednesday, the contractors said in a joint statement.
The strikers expressed disappointment that their other concerns, including toilet and lunch breaks, were not addressed.
Strike-hit port operator Hongkong International Terminals welcomed the contractors' move. The firm said last night that it would give HK$4,000 to all non-striking dockers this month.
Labour and Welfare Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung noted that the pay rise was higher than the previous proposal of 7 per cent offered by Everbest.
Describing the latest proposal as a "progress", Cheung said he hoped the container port would return to normal business soon.
Earlier yesterday, the Court of First Instance heard an application by a Cheung Kong (Holdings) subsidiary for an interim injunction to force the strikers out of their base at the Cheung Kong Center. Lawyers for both sides argued over the dockers' right to use the space.
The Li Ka-shing flagship, through its subsidiary Turbo Top, sought to restrain the defendants from entering, occupying, remaining at or in any way trespassing in the Cheung Kong Center and certain areas surrounding the building.
Mr Justice Godfrey Lam Wan-ho will decide on Monday whether to grant the interim injunction to force the strikers out of the space outside the building.
Simon Westbrook SC, for Turbo Top, said although the space was public, this gave the public only the implied right to use it for temporary and peaceful activities, but the strikers were planning to stay there "indefinitely".
Westbrook also expressed concern about a fire hazard from generators and exposed cables in the camping area.
Gerard McCoy SC, for the defendants, said ownership of the space outside the building was in the hands of Cheung Kong and the government since both sides signed the Condition of Exchange on the land some years ago. Cheung Kong did not have exclusive possession of the land, he said.
McCoy said the police had issued a notice of no objection to the strikers staying there, and as the police were the government's law enforcement agency, this meant the government had approved the strikers' presence.