A strike of 500 dock workers in Hong Kong has entered its third week. The workers are demanding a pay rise of between 17 and 24%, with the bosses’ offer currently at 7%.
The strikers also want their union, the Hong Kong Dockworkers Union, to be recognised. In the latest round of negotiations, bosses at the Everbest Port Services and Global Stevedoring Service spoke only to the official Federation of Trade Unions and the Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions, both of which have links to the state-run labour fronts in mainland China and whose members are not involved in the current strike. The dockworkers’ organisation is linked to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU). As Solidarity went to press, dockers and their supporters were holding a sit-down protest outside the latest negotiations.
The strike is causing daily losses of $500,000, as well as 60-hour delays to ships. 120,000 containers are currently sitting untouched in the terminal. Gerry Yim, a managing director at Hong Kong International Terminals, said the company had “lost [its] reputation in the international shipping business” because of the strike. Local supporters provide food for the strikers and have so far raised more than $1 million for the strike fund.
The Hong Kong International Terminals are owned by Li Ka-shing, a billionaire who controls more than 70% of Hong Kong’s port container traffic. According to Forbes he is the eighth richest man in the world.
Workers face 12-hour shifts (sometimes with no toilet breaks) and wages that have been frozen for fifteen years in one of the world’s most expensive cities.