The majority of dockers support a 9.8 per cent pay rise offered by four strike-hit contractors, according to one of the unions.
Some 66 per cent of the nearly 200 dockers polled in the past two days back the 9.8 per cent offer, which was made on Friday night, the Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions said.
But it was rejected by 22 per cent of those interviewed, the union said. And most of the dock workers were pressing for an annual salary review.
The federation denied it was trying to speak for all 500 striking workers. However it admitted that the survey was aimed at voicing the opinions of workers who were affected by the negotiations but were not out on strike.
"The ultimate decision depends on the [striking] workers. But everyone has the right to air their views. That should be respected," federation spokesman Tsang Ping-fat said yesterday while releasing the survey results.
He said none of the 194 workers interviewed was involved in the latest strike led by the Confederation of Trade Unions.
On Friday night, the four contractors - Everbest Port Services, Pui Kee Stevedore Company, Lem Wing Transportation and Comcheung Human Resources - said they would not engage in any further talks, but would give a one-off 9.8 per cent pay rise to all workers. But this "final offer" has been rejected by the strikers.
In its 40th day, the strike at the Kwai Tsing container terminals is now the longest industrial dispute the city has seen.
It has stirred a wider debate about labour rights in Hong Kong, with businesses saying the unions' demands are unrealistic.
The dockers earlier demanded a 20 per cent pay rise but eased their stance, instead seeking a "double-digit" offer.
The pro-Beijing federation said it would not use the results of its survey to put pressure on the strikers, but would seek a 12 per cent pay rise. "The union is asking the contractors to return to the negotiating table sincerely and reach a consensus," it said in a statement. Tsang said yesterday that the federation would not join the strike but would try to resolve the matter through talks.
Some of the strikers continue to camp outside the Central headquarters of billionaire Li Ka-shing. A unit of Li's Hutchison Whampoa runs five terminals at the port. Hutchison has insisted it is not directly involved in the dispute, since the striking workers are employed by contractors.