Kwai Tsing dock workers strike

Member of Beijing-loyalist FTU part of contractor's management

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 April, 2013, 12:15pm

A Beijing-loyalist alliance of trade unions has stayed silent throughout the week-old walkout at the Kwai Tsing container terminals because of vested interests with some of the port contractors, striking workers have alleged.

Earlier, the Federation of Trade Unions claimed it reached a consensus with the contractors last week to raise their workers' wages by 5 per cent from July.

The workers are seeking a 17 per cent pay rise. The FTU has kept its distance since the industrial action started last Thursday, saying it is leaving the pan-democratic Confederation of Trade Unions to help the dockers.

Some of the strikers said two federation members were holding senior or middle-management roles at the contractor companies and that was why the FTU was not really helping them.

A former crane operator, who called himself Brother Keung, 40, said he had been employed by contractor Global Stevedoring Service since 2000, until it terminated him last year. He said a man by the transliterated name of Yau Mei-kwong was part of Global's middle management and also a federation member.

"All the workers have lost trust in the federation," he said. "If it now dares to approach the strikers, I really do not know what would happen."

All the workers have lost trust in the federation. If it now dares to approach the strikers, I really do not know what would happen
Former crane operator, Brother Keung

FTU lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin confirmed Yau was an official of the federation's Container Transportation Employees General Union and also a middle-management member of Global. "But there is no conflict of interest. He's not top management."

The FTU's decision to keep out of the action was not due to Yau, Wong said, but because the CTU were the strike organisers.

Wong said the other person mentioned by the strikers was an FTU unionist in the 1990s but no longer belonged to the alliance.

Brother Keung and three other crane operators fought for pay rises with Global, but instead it refused to renew their contracts at the end of last year.

CTU lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan said donations to the strike fund hit HK$1.4 million yesterday afternoon, the most in the city's history of walkouts. He said the workers had been granted legal aid to help with tomorrow's hearing on a permanent injunction barring them from the terminals.

The Union of Hong Kong Dockers, which handed out $300,000 to strikers on Tuesday, gave out another HK$168,000 yesterday.