Ray of hope for strikers as Li steps in

Hutchison Whampoa chairman Li Ka-shing has agreed to step in - giving a ray of hope to end the two-week dock strike at the Kwai Tsing container terminal.

Beatrice Siu

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hutchison Whampoa chairman Li Ka-shing has agreed to step in - giving a ray of hope to end the two-week dock strike at the Kwai Tsing container terminal.

According to a source, Li - who has been keeping a distance - was approached by a "middle man" to help solve the labor dispute.

It is understood that with Li's help, the strike will end very soon.

Port operator Hongkong International Terminal is a subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa.

Yesterday, a union representing non- striking dockers said it would seek only a 12 percent pay rise for its members.

This compares with the 23 percent demanded by the Confederation of Trade Unions, which represents dockers who went on strike 14 days ago.

The first talks since the strike began were held in two sessions yesterday, with the CTU attending the first and the rival Federation of Trade Unions and Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions the second.

FTU and HKFLU said they have asked for a 12 percent pay rise as well as overtime payment of 1.5 times salary after eight hours.

Two contractors - Everbest Port Services and Global Stevedoring Service Company - attended the meetings while HIT representative acted as a observers. The CTU reported no progress after more than three hours of talks.

CTU spokesman Wong Shiu- cheung said the talks had not even touched on the core issue of a pay rise, covering only minor aspects like meals, toilet arrangements and overtime pay.

Stanley Ho Wai-hung, spokesman for the Union of Hong Kong Dockers, described the meeting as rational and peaceful, but said the contractors wanted to go on to the next meeting in the afternoon and cut the talks short.

"The Labour Department should understand that three hours is not enough," Ho said.

"The arrangement was confusing and messy. We are disappointed."

Ho said both contractors and HIT listened to their demands but gave no response.

A spokesman for the HKFLU, Tsang Ping-fat, said they were not happy with the arrangement and preferred to talk to the employers face to face.

Cheuk Fu-ming, chairman of the Container Transportation Employees General Union, said it had increased its salary rise demand because of inflation.

A representative of Everbest Port Services - Dick Wong - said the meeting was a first step.