Hong Kong’s Port Strikers May Meet With Contractors Tomorrow

Workers at Hongkong International Terminals Ltd., backed by billionaire Li Ka-shing’s port operator, may meet with employer representatives tomorrow at the earliest after their strike entered its 10th day.

The dock workers requested a meeting with the two larger contractors which hire them as they see this as a more “meaningful” discussion, Wong Yu-loy, a representative of the Union of Hong Kong Dockers, said by phone today. “A meeting is unlikely today,” he said. “The earliest would be tomorrow.”

The workers, who are employed by contractors instead of Hongkong International Terminals directly, have been striking to demand a pay increase of about 25 percent amid higher inflation. About 250 to 300 workers remained on the street outside the entrance of the port in Hong Kong’s Kwai Tsing district, Wong said. Labor discontent has risen as Hong Kong’s wealth gap widened to the biggest since records started in 1971.

A high court ruling yesterday allowed no more than 80 workers to return to the container terminal area at Kwai Tsing after they were all earlier barred from entering. The union sent about 80 of its members back to the terminal around midday today to protest and persuade other workers to join the strike, Cable TV reported.

The workers are demanding that hourly wages rise by HK$12.50 ($1.60) from about HK$50, the union said earlier. Strikers won’t accept an offer of a 5 percent pay increase, Radio Television Hong Kong reported on April 3, citing Lee Cheuk-yan, a lawmaker from Hong Kong’s Labour Party.

Hongkong International Terminals is operated by Li’s Singapore-listed Hutchison Port Holdings Trust, and with its partner Cosco Pacific Ltd. controls more than half Hong Kong’s port capacity.

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