Sunday, April 20, 2014   




Strike-hit docks `losing out to rivals'

Beatrice Siu

Thursday, May 02, 2013

The dockers' strike is jeopardizing Hong Kong's entrepot status, says Hutchison Port Holdings group managing director John Meredith.

Meredith sounded the alarm despite claims by Hutchison Whampoa Group managing director Canning Fok Kin-ning that the terminal is performing at 90percent of its normal capacity and that the 33-day strike has had little effect.

In an article published in several Chinese-language newspapers, Meredith said the strike has already forced some consignees to use other ports.

"The union and its leaders said they would protect the livelihood of workers, but it seems to me that they are more concerned about the political bargaining chip they have gained," he said, referring to the Union of Hong Kong Dockers.

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"The most disappointing and heartbreaking thing is to see workers give up negotiating frankly since they were incited by the union."

It is unfair when critics blame Hongkong International Terminals for neglecting the welfare of workers, he said. It is also "an insult to those who have been promoting Hong Kong as one of the top ports with innovative commercial models."

Meredith said more consignees may shift to other ports.

"If companies worry that the cargoes cannot be delivered on time, they will lose confidence in us. In fact, some changed to other ports in the past month. If our cost is increasing or not reliable in efficiency, the business will be gone for ever."

Meredith accused Confederation of Trade Unions leader Lee Cheuk-yan for ignoring such facts, saying that Lee's "Cultural Revolution-style" banners targeted tycoon Li Ka-shing and even Hutchison businesses.

"The strike can be resolved through talks with sincerity, but making politicized and exaggerated gestures do not help," Meredith said.

Lee hit back at Meredith's criticisms, slamming the company for resorting to delaying tactics and neglecting the problems of pay rises and working conditions.

"They are the ones who are delaying and have refused to face the problem," Lee said.


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