Kwai Tsing dock workers strike

Dockers drive home the message to Li Ka-shing

Striking workers try to get billionaire's attention chanting and waving placards outside his house

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 April, 2013, 12:51pm

Striking dock workers wanted to make sure their "ultimate boss" heard their calls yesterday, shifting their protest from outside billionaire Li Ka-shing's headquarters to his home.

The usually sleepy corner of Deep Water Bay was overtaken by about 60 dockers, their families and unionists, who spent the morning chanting slogans. Some waved placards, reading: "Grandpa Ka-shing, where are you? Pay us!"

Some of the protesters said they were hoping Li would respond directly to their demands.

But it was not to be - Li had earlier been spotted playing golf nearby.

Asia's richest man, Li is the chairman of Hutchison Whampoa, the parent company of Kwai Tsing port operator Hongkong International Terminals (HIT), whose contractors employ the 450 striking dockers.

Strike organiser Stanley Ho Wai-hong, of the Union of Hong Kong Dockers, called for Li to be a "boss with a conscience" and put an end to the dispute which began on March 28.

The union wants a 17 to 24 per cent pay rise for all workers.

And more action is planned if the pay rise is not forthcoming, Ho said, without elaborating.

Yesterday's protest, on day 25 of the strike, came after a high-profile attack on a unionist lawmaker by Hutchison Whampoa group managing director Canning Fok Kin-ning. Fok claimed Lee Cheuk-yan was not genuinely seeking a good outcome for the workers, and said that the strike tactics were similar to those used during the Cultural Revolution. His was the first public comment on the strike from Hutchison.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung would not comment on Fok's remarks yesterday, saying that the government had to remain an "impartial mediator" in such disputes.

He was unsure when the next meeting between the union and company representatives would be, but said that "only when all parties show sincerity" could the negotiations move forward.

Separately, an alliance of about 20 people from a number of concern groups supported the striking dockers by sticking up fliers in Mong Kok yesterday.

They plastered fliers of Li's face and the words "anti-monopoly" on the doors of several shops owned by Li's Hutchison - including electrical appliance retailer Fortress and telecommunications company Three.

The protesters also chanted slogans outside the shops, calling on Hongkongers to boycott any businesses owned by Li.

"We want to use this action to let more people know that this is a war on Li," said one of the protesters, Lee Chak-man.

"They need to know that they are being exploited by the capitalists in their life every day," Lee said.