Hong Kong dockers defiant as pay dispute intensifies

  • Shippers advised to seek alternative shipping routes as industrial action continues to hamper Kwai Tsing Container Terminals’ operations

Dockworkers at Hong Kong’s Kwai Tsing Container Terminals are showing no signs of ending their strike notice and bowing to increasing pressure from employers as they continue to fight for a pay raise at the world’s third busiest port.

Despite an injunction preventing workers from entering the port, which was granted by the High Court of Hong Kong (HCHK) on Wednesday, several hundred dockers and their supporters remain camped outside the container terminal in protest.

Workers are demanding a 20 percent increase to their annual salary, while sub-contractors on behalf of terminal operator Hutchison International Terminals (HIT) have offered just a five percent rise. In addition, workers are insisting that their union are given access to negotiate their pay demands, along further health and safety related issues, with Hutchison directly.

The injunction, issued by HIT, has been condemned by the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) as it deprives workers of their right to strike.

“The company's attempts to intimidate workers by threatening to dismiss strikers as well as its move to replace them with strikebreakers constitute serious violations of international standards,” the ITF said in a statement.

The strikes, now entering their seventh day, have prompted the Hong Kong Shippers’ Council to advise its members to seek alternative shipping routes as the port continues to operate with a skeleton crew.

Officials at the port estimate that the pay dispute is costing HIT, owned by Hutchison Port Holdings Trust (HPH Trust), as much as US$644,000 a day.

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