Dockers continue strike despite sacking threat

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 April, 2013, 2:18pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 April, 2013, 6:43pm

Striking dock workers on Tuesday morning rejected an ultimatum sent by their employers demanding that they return to work and end their protest outside the Kwai Chung Container Terminal.

The strike by the dock workers for higher pay has entered its sixth day with no signs of it easing.

Last night, port operators won an injunction against 14 unionists and other unauthorised demonstrators from entering or occupying the port site.

The strikers and their supporters complied with the court injunction, left the site and this morning set up their new camp, including tents, just outside the port site.

The contractors who employ the dock workers on behalf of the port operators earlier threatened to sack them if they did not return to work by Tuesday noon. But up to 100 workers opted to continue the strike.

One worker said he would continue the protest until the contractors agreed to give them a 17 per cent pay rise.

He said he was prepared for the worst case scenario – sacking. “We will stand firm and will not return to work because they [the contractors] have paid no attention to our feelings,” he said.

The workers say they have seen a pay rise only once over the past 15 years, and nothing over the past 10 years, and as a consequence their wages have fallen well below rises in inflation over this period.

However, port operator Hongkong International Terminals (HIT), a subsidiary of billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Hutchison Whampoa, refuted the claim on Tuesday.

Managing director Gerry Yim Lui-fai said he had inspected the pay records of the dock workers and found there had been some pay rises over the past 10 years.

“The claim that there has been no pay rise over the past 10 years is incorrect because there were both rises and cuts in wages,” Yim said.

“[The claim] that wages are lower then the 1997 and 2003 levels is also incorrect,” he said.