» 05/07/2013, 00.00
Hong Kong dockworkers defy Li Ka-shing's empire and win
After a 40-day strike, local dockworkers get a pay rise and better working conditions from contractors of Hutchinson Whampoa, a multinational company owned by the Hong Kong billionaire. For the first time, employers agree to write down their promises.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - After 40 days of strike, one of the longest
in the history of Hong Kong, the city's dockers have won their battle against
the empire of billionaire Li Ka-shing and accepted a 9.8 per cent pay rise Although
the workers were demanding an increase in the "double-digit", union
leaders accepted the proposal when four contractors pledged to improve
conditions and write the increase into their contracts. The salary rise will be
backdated to 1 May.
The work stoppage began
on 28 March when hundreds of staff employed by contractors of port operator
Hong Kong International Terminals (HIT), part of Li Ka-shing's Hutchison
Whampoa empire, stopped work at the Kwai Tsing Container Terminals demanding
About 530 workers, said to be two-thirds of the dockworkers HIT
employed through contractors, joined the strike at its peak.
Yesterday, the 430 remaining strikers and unionists went into a
meeting after the High Court ruled that they would be allowed to continue
protesting outside Li's Cheung Kong Centre until a formal hearing on a
permanent injunction was heard. After a two-hour session, they accepted the
offer and the strike was over.
"This is half successful," said Stanley Ho Wai-hong, spokesman for
the Union of Hong Kong Dockers. "The most important reason why we have decided
to accept the offer is because of the written guarantee from the contractors"
who for years "have never put things in black and white and have only made
The contractors pledged all dockers would get pay rise. They agreed
to allow dockers to stop work for meals or for toilet breaks whenever they
wanted and to improve safety with the help of HIT. They also promised there
would be no retaliation against the strikers.
The strike's positive outcome represents a step
forward not only for Hong Kong workers but also in relation to mainland China.
Protected by its 'Basic Law", the city's British-granted
constitution, Hong Kongers will have to face in the near future the prospect of
coming under Beijing's total control.
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