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A file photo of protesters hold masks of Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-Ying (front right) and Asia’s richest man Li Ka-shing (front left) as they push a mock meat grinder containing a dummy of a dock worker (centre) at a May Day rally in Hong Kong. Photo: AFP (AFP)
A file photo of protesters hold masks of Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-Ying (front right) and Asia’s richest man Li Ka-shing (front left) as they push a mock meat grinder containing a dummy of a dock worker (centre) at a May Day rally in Hong Kong. Photo: AFP
(AFP)

Hong Kong striking dockers reject offer as contractors end talks

Union representative says the workers will not accept a 9.8% wage increase offered by four contractors at the port

Hong Kong: Striking dock workers at billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Hongkong International Terminals Ltd. rejected a wage offer by contractors as the employers said they will no longer take part in negotiations to settle the 39-day labour dispute.

The workers won’t accept a 9.8% wage increase offered by four contractors at the port, Ho Wai-hong, representative of the Union of Hong Kong Dockers, said by phone on Sunday. The contractors won’t negotiate further, according to an e-mailed statement jointly issued by the four companies.

The stalemate extends the largest labour revolt against Asia’s richest man, which began on 28 March when about 450 dock workers, crane operators and stevedores walked off the job to demand higher wages and better working conditions. The disruption forced shipping lines to divert vessels to nearby ports including to neighbouring Shenzhen, southern China.

They’re showing a lack of sincerity, Ho said of the contractors’ latest offer. This is their one-sided move and the workers aren’t accepting at this stage because it wasn’t reached through negotiation with the union.

Hongkong International had offered a HK$4,000 ($516) bonus to workers who returned to work by 6 May. The company will consider the union’s feedback on occupational safety issues and will make improvements to work arrangements, according to an e- mailed statement on 3 May.

Reduced Demands

The dockers, who are hired by the contractors, reduced their demands from an initial 23% pay increase to a double-digit raise after replacement workers were hired a month into the industrial action. The strikers earlier rejected a 7% increase from the current HK$55 an hour.

Hongkong International recorded a 7.4% drop in container throughput in the first quarter compared with a year earlier because of weak transshipment and European cargoes, according to the quarterly results of Hutchison Port Holdings Trust, its parent company.

Workers and their supporters are continuing a protest outside Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong Center, where the headquarters of Li’s Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd. is located. Lawyers representing the building’s management have been in a legal battle to ban the demonstrations at the site. Bloomberg

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