Talks between striking Kwai Tsing dockers and two contractors that employ them broken down on Thursday with the contractors only willing to agree to a raise of about 7 per cent – a far cry from the 17 to 23 per cent the strikers are asking for.
But both sides did not say if they were standing firm on their proposals.
A representative of the strikers only said that there was a “high chance” that the dock workers would not accept the 7 per cent offer.
A representative from Everbest Port Services, one of the two contractors at the meeting, said “nothing is impossible” when asked if there was still room for adjustment.
Representatives from the other contractor, Global Stevedoring Service Company, did not comment as they left halfway through the meeting when the strikers went on a toilet break.
Thursday’s 7 per cent offer to the strikers comprised a 5 per cent pay rise and new benefits worth an additional 2 per cent, strike organiser Stanley Ho Wai-hong said.
“We can’t see their sincerity in this proposal … [and therefore] there is a high chance we will not accept it,” Ho said. “The workers will continue with their strike. Otherwise, the last 15 days of striking will have been wasted.”
The strikers are considering escalating their actions, he said. He did not say what those actions might be.
Another of the striking workers representatives, Ng Shu-ming, quoted the contractors as saying that their operating cost would become very heavy if they gave a 20 per cent pay rise to the workers.
“They said there was room for negotiation, but that there was not a lot of room.” Ng said.
He also criticised the three representatives from Global Stevedoring Service for leaving before the meeting had officially ended.
Representative Dick Wong from Everbest refused to explain why the 2 per cent needed to be given in the form of benefits. But he stressed that all workers would receive it.
“We need to access our operating cost. It [7 per cent offer] is not final. We will discuss it again later,” he said.
“Nothing is impossible. In fact, there should be room for negotiation for all of us.”
A Labour Department spokeswoman said that the day’s negotiations went well.
When asked why Global’s representatives left halfway through the meeting, she said they needed some time to talk by themselves.
A representative from the strike-hit port operator, Hongkong International Terminals, also attended the meeting as an observer.
Since the strike started on 28th April a total of 90 vessels have bypassed the Kwai Tsing container terminals operated by HIT.