Kwai Tsing dock workers strike

Non-striking dockers challenge strikers' work conditions claims

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 April, 2013, 9:13pm
UPDATED : Monday, 22 April, 2013, 9:26pm

Non-striking dock workers on Monday challenged striking dockers’ claims about working conditions in the Kwai Tsing container terminals, saying what they faced was not as dire as the strikers claim.

Three workers who have not participated in the three-week strike spoke about their work experiences during a press conference on Monday arranged by port operator Hongkong International Terminals.

One of the workers, a crane operator surnamed Chan, contested the dire stories told by strikers of having to relieve themselves inside the cabin because they did not have toilet breaks.

“Many colleagues climb down the crane and raise their request for the toilet to port staff. A patrol car will then be arranged to take us to the toilet,” he said.

“When you tell them of your need, they don’t give you any trouble,” he said.

Chan also said the crane cabin was comfortable, with air-conditioning, an adjustable chair and a shield against sunlight.

Another worker, a cargo loader surnamed Lam, accused the striking workers of not being truthful when describing what is required of workers on the so-called 24-hour shift. He said workers actually had a six-hour break after six hours of work, and did not work continuously throughout the shift.

“It is impossible that everything about the job is negative. There must be something positive,” he said.

Their remarks came as the strike by more than 400 dock workers entered its 26th day.

About 100 workers have been camped outside Cheung Kong Center to demand meetings with the contractors hiring them and the port operator HIT, which employs the contractors. Strikers are seeking a pay rise of 17 per cent and better working conditions.

Responding to the non-striking workers’ remarks about work conditions at the docks, strike organiser Stanley Ho Wai-hang said their stories might well be true, but many dockers work in much worse conditions.

“We have heard from more [than a few] workers that the conditions inside the port are very bad,” he said.