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Workers Strike Over Pay at Hong Kong Port Backed by Li Ka-shing

More than 100 workers at Hongkong International Terminals Ltd., backed by billionaire Li Ka-shing’s port operator, are striking to demand about a 20 percent pay increase amid higher inflation.

Dock workers, who are staging a sit-in, want hourly wages to rise by HK$12.50 ($1.61), Ho Wai-hong, a representative of the Union of Hong Kong Dockers, said today by phone. The staff are employed by contractors, said Hongkong International Terminals Managing Director Gerry Yim.

“We are not in a position to negotiate with the workers about how much their employers pay them,” Yim said, though Hongkong International Terminals has asked contractors to give a 5 percent pay increase this year. “The irresponsible action today by some of the protesters will in the long run hurt Hong Kong’s status as an transport and logistic center.”

The rising cost of consumer goods and record home prices in the former British colony are spurring discontent as the city’s wealth gap widens to the worst since records were kept in 1971. Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. in December averted labor disruptions threatened by its flight attendants union after disagreements on wage increases and working conditions.

Hongkong International Terminals, part of Singapore-listed Hutchison Port Holdings Trust, operates 12 berths at four terminals in the Chinese city and two through a venture with partner Cosco Pacific Ltd. Hong Kong has nine terminals.

The protesters are directing their demands at the contractors, and Hongkong International Terminals has asked them to pay “fair wages,” Yim said at a press conference.

Consumer prices rose 4.4 percent in February from a year earlier, beating the 4 percent median estimate of 12 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

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