Wednesday, April 16, 2014   




Strike claims challenged

Beatrice Siu

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Crane-operator Chan showed up at Hongkong International Terminals shortly before 8am for his 12-hour shift.

But though he may have reported as usual, the 33-year-old under contract to Lem Wing Transportation said he respects the stance of striking workers at other contractors, including Everbest Port Services and Global Stevedoring Service.

At a media interview arranged at the HIT office with three workers who did not join the strike, Chan admitted the work is intense from the moment he steps into the crane's control room but it was more a matter of personal choice.

"It's not that we can't go to the toilet or don't have time for a meal," Chan, who asked to be identified only by his surname, told The Standard.

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"In fact, we have short breaks of two to three minutes between vessels berthing at the terminals. Very rarely can I get 15 to 30 minutes. We also take turns to have meals so that we have around 15 to 20 minutes for mealtimes."

But during his seven years on the job, he has always been able to take toilet breaks. "I call the supervisor and he will drive me to the toilet if it is not nearby," Chan said.

Striking dockers have protested the lack of mealtime and toilet breaks, as well as excessive overtime.

But Chan said instead of so-called 24-hour shifts, he only works a 12-hour shift and rests for the remainder of the day, earning HK$715 for each shift and making up to HK$17,000 a month.

He has also had a pay rise, after starting at HK$600 a day in 2011, Chan said.

"I won't join the strike because I need to earn a living," he added. "I understand workers' demands but there are many ways to solve the problem."

Lam Wai-yin and Yu Wai-wing, Everbest stevedores for 10 and eight years, respectively, said the claims of striking workers are overblown.

They said they work as a pair for a 24-hour shift. "It is up to us to juggle the time," Lam said. "We can work six or 12 hours alternately."

Yu added: "It is impossible to work for 24 hours non-stop, else I wouldn't have stayed eight years.

"Some need to work overtime as they have to replace their colleagues or want to earn extra."

For each 24-hour shift, Lam said he earns HK$1,315 and Yu makes HK$1,441, averaging HK$20,000 per month.

"I think the views [of striking dockers ] are exaggerated. The situation is not that bad," Yu said.

"Some workers want to return to work, but are worried they will be blamed as spineless."

All three also denied being forced to do any overtime.


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