Wholesalers end strike after failing to get date for return of mainland imports Live chickens from local farms will be back on sale today after wholesalers called off a two-week strike meant to press their case for a resumption of mainland imports. Their decision came after the government allowed farms to move 500 birds directly to retail markets, bypassing the strikers. But the wholesalers' representative denied the strike-breaking led to their climbdown. Between 20,000 and 40,000 live chickens will be on sale today. Hong Kong Live Poultry Wholesalers Association chairman Tsui Ming-tuen said their decision had been purely voluntary. 'We have not compromised. We are just moved by the enthusiasm of the public for having live chickens back,' he said. Hong Kong Poultry Wholesalers and Retailers Association chairman Steven Wong Wai-chuen criticised the government for 'leaving them in the dark'. Three wholesalers' associations on Wednesday refused to release cages used for moving chickens from farms to the wholesale market in Cheung Sha Wan. The associations control and own all the 60,000 cages in use at the market. On Wednesday night, Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Thomas Chan Chun-yuen exercised his discretionary power to exempt some farms from the requirement to send poultry to wholesale markets. Using cages the government rented from a farm, chickens were sent to two outlets in Aberdeen and Yuen Long. 'When the wholesale market is not working smoothly or its failure to operate affects the general public, the director has the power to change the conditions temporarily,' assistant director Lai Ching-wai said after a meeting with the wholesalers yesterday. Deputy director Lau Sin-pang said the department was considering setting up a new wholesale market for local chickens and could buy its own cages. A spokeswoman said the intention was to separate trade in local chickens from that in imported birds. As to when mainland imports could be resumed, the spokeswoman said the legislature would be briefed on updates of the government's policy on lifting the ban, imposed on January 30 as a precaution against bird flu.