All On the Same Ocean 同一个海上

Solidarity with Strikers on the Hong Kong Docks 声援香港码头工人罢工

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Holy Crap, Tar Sands/Keystone XL Related To Skagit Bridge Collapse

A recent major accident in the Pacific Northwest, just another piece of this drilling, shipping, and money-making business that stretches across oceans. The following is reposted from Daily Kos.


Sun May 26, 2013 at 02:12 PM PDT

by ratcityreprobate


Zoltan Grossman, a geography professor at The Evergreen State College outside of Olympia, Washington, has been digging into the facts surrounding the collapse of the I-5 bridge across the Skagit River north of Seattle. The picture he is putting together of this incident is even more shocking than we initially believed. Mullen Trucking, the Calgary based operator of the truck that hit the span is involved in hauling large and heavy drilling from the Port of Vancouver, WA, to the Alberta Tar Sands field. The equipment is placed in a large box for the trip north and east from Vancouver, WA.  After unloading the trucks return to Vancouver with the empty housing boxes to be loaded again. The truck that hit the bridge was carrying one of those large housing boxes back to Vancouver for another load of drilling equipment.

Thanks to Zoltan there is more below the flying orange squig.

Initially, these trucks were routed East across Oregon, Northern Idaho and into Montana before heading north into Alberta.  Because of organized protests in Missoula, Mullen started diverting some of their drilling cargo north on I-5 through Seattle to take some of the pressure off Montana, however, they continue to use the Montana route as well.

Mullen Trucking L. P. is no two-bit player in the business of moving drilling rigs. It has a market capitalization of $2.5 billion according to Anil Tahiliani, portfolio manager with McLean and Partners Wealth Management in Calgary. Mullen will be in Booth 2001 at the Oil Sands Trade Show and Conference, Sept. 10-11, 2013 in Fort McMurray, Alberta. They operate the largest specialized fleet in Western Canada with 140 trucks and 450 trailers designed to haul drilling equipment.

Professor Grossman provides the following links to sources for his analysis:

“The tractor-trailer was hauling drilling equipment housing to Vancouver, Wash.”…

Mullen Trucking has “escorted numerous loads destined for the tar sands”:…

Mullen Trucking at Oil Sands Trade Show…

“There are some big players in the logistics industry in Alberta’s oil sands. For example, Mullen Trucking L.P. has a $2.5 billion market cap. Terrible road conditions mean trucking equipment around is hugely important…rig-moving equipment is ‘the latest thing.'”…

“Opponents force Imperial Oil to send megaloads to Canada’s oil sands on interstates, avoiding scenic highways” (with map)…

All Against the Haul

It would appear that the environmental damage of the Tar Sands/Keystone Pipeline Project is beyond our is beyond our worst fears and will only get worse.
The tentacles of that monstrosity reach across our country and Canada.

Interesting Side Note:
Professor Grossmans diligent discovery is the Second Grand Slam for Evergreen State College this Spring. Thomas Herndon, the grad student at the University of Massachusetts who exposed Reinhart and Rogoff’s treatise on National Debt and Economic Growth as a fraud is an Evergreen graduate.

Originally posted to ratcityreprobate on Sun May 26, 2013 at 02:12 PM PDT.


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Changed Social Landscape Emerges from Dock Strike

Stephen Vines
May 11 2013
Unionists cheer dockers on their first day back at the port. Photo: Edward Wong

Who won the port strike? As ever, this kind of question has no simple answer but, such as they are, the answers are more interesting than might be imagined.

Let’s start with the big question of whether the dockers won or lost. Clearly, they did not achieve the pay rise they were seeking – the 9.8 per cent accepted being around half their original demand – but management was forced to double its initial offer and to concede improved conditions of work that it initially refused even to discuss.

In purely monetary terms, it will be hard for the strikers to claw back the lost pay they sacrificed during the dispute; moreover some are now jobless. Yet they emerge from the strike with a strong sense of pride and solidarity, plus the comforting assurance of widespread public support for their cause.

What the strike crystallised was a significant change in the way many people regard Hong Kong’s leading businessmen, once hailed as rags-to-riches heroes but now seen in a very different light. The change in mood may well produce some interesting results.

Li Ka-shing, the man in the eye of the anti-big-business storm, emerges from this strike in bad shape. True, he kept his port company more or less at arm’s length. Yet, by actions such as taking out full-page newspaper advertisements denouncing the strike and its leaders, the company reinforced the impression that Li was at the centre of the strike, and not in a positive way. I have not heard anyone saying anything good about his actions; at best, they have been described as “understandable”.

On the other hand, the pro-democracy Confederation of Trade Unions, under the leadership of Lee Cheuk-yan, has clearly enhanced its status as the most impressive fighter for workers’ rights. The bigger pro-Beijing unions were largely left on the sidelines and suffered from the suspicion that they could no longer be relied upon to support the workers. This is damaging because one of the central planks of the pro-Beijing camp’s credibility is that it has a strong working-class base.

As for the government, well what can we say? Officials kind of stood aside at the outset, then kind of got involved and then kind of claimed to have settled the dispute. In other words, it was kind of muddled and ineffective. Smart governments either keep well away from private industrial disputes or plunge in with some determination. This government did neither. What a surprise.

There are wider questions to be asked about the consequences of this strike for collective bargaining. It is well known that those engaged in industrial disputes enjoy no more than minimal protection under Hong Kong’s laws. And we shall see, for example, whether there is longer-term retaliation against the strikers, who lack legal protection against such action. Yet the strike clearly showed that even employers who, as in this case, refuse to recognise the union leading the strike could be forced to sit down and negotiate with them.

One institution emerges from this strike with its reputation very much intact.

The judiciary resisted the legal bullying of Li’s lawyers trying to remove strikers from outside his headquarters, by ensuring that the rights of assembly were upheld, while also ruling on the removal of obstructions arising from these rights that were causing problems of public access.

The courts did their job in exemplary fashion and sent a reassuring message that they were not to be swayed by those with the biggest wads of cash.

Overall, the strike shows the effectiveness of industrial action and a change in public attitudes towards it. Who would have thought that as Hong Kong enters the 21st century, the place often portrayed as an epitome of capitalist values would be moving in this direction? This story is far from over.

Stephen Vines is a Hong Kong-based journalist and entrepreneur

This article first appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition on May 11, 2013 as Changed social landscape emerges from dock strike

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HKCTU End of Strike Statement

Union of Hong Kong Dockers

6 May 2013

Members of UHKD decided in the meeting held this evening to call an end to the 40-day strike in the HIT terminals.

 On 6 May, UHKD received a written confirmation jointly signed by the four contractors of HIT, Everbest, Comcheung, Lem Wing and Pui Kee via the Labour Department. The four companies confirmed the new salary plan of 9.8% increase in the basic wage for all their employees at different works in the Kwai Chung Contrainer Terminals, effective for one year from 1 May 2013. In the workers’ meeting called by UHKD in the evening, members considered the written assurance by the four contractors with the Labour Department a step forward compared to the verbal, unilateral announcement these companies made on 3 May. Although the strike has not secured a collective bargaining agreement with the employers, the 40-day industrial action has broken the “tradition” of unilateralism and succeeded in forcing the contractors to seal a written confirmation about the pay and working conditions. UHKD believes that this is the first step towards building a mechanism of communication and negotiation between the employers and the union representing a large section of the contractual workers in the Hong Kong terminals.

 The four contractors’ written confirmation also gives details committing the employers to “improve the occupational safety and health protection with the terminal companies”, as well as providing the crane operators the right “to stop the machine to take lunch freely”, and “leave their workplace for toilet”. Members of UHKD decide that these concrete commitments are important basis for the union to continue the engagement with the contractors and HIT in good faith in the future.

 While calling an end to the strike, the union is now working to assist the re-employment of its members, particularly the hundred crane operators employed by Global Stevedoring which announced its closure on 18 April. The union is pressing the Labour Department to negotiate with all the contractors for the soonest possible re-employment of these members.

 UHKD will see to the end that the contractors abide by their promise of non-retaliation; and that none of its members will be penalized in the future for having taken part in the strike. The union will follow up to demand the contractors and HIT for a mechanism to schedule the rest and lunch breaks, enforce the safety and health provisions, review the salary regularly and eventually establish a collective bargaining mechanism that includes the contractual workers in the terminals.

 The passionate support and generous donations of the Hong Kong community, the international trade unions and organizations have helped us to sustain the strike for forty days. On behalf of our members, UHKD is thankful to all of you who have been giving us unwavering support. Together with you, we have demonstrated again the importance of workers’ unity in fighting not only for reasonable pay, but also our dignity and our future.

 It is the time for Hong Kong SAR government to re-table the legislation on collective bargaining, scrapped by the government in 1997, in obligations under the ILO Convention No98. The working people in Hong Kong must have an internationally recognized mechanism on collective bargaining to ensure the right to fair negotiation of their working conditions and protection of the unions they belong to.

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Hong Kong Dockworkers End 40-Day Strike

Monday May 6, 2013, 9:07 AM


Associated Press

Print | E-mail

(c) 2013, Bloomberg News.

HONG KONG — Port workers at billionaire Li Ka- shing’s Hongkong International Terminals Ltd. ended the longest strike at Hong Kong’s container terminal as they accepted a 9.8 percent wage increase, resolving a dispute that damaged the city’s reputation as a trade hub.

The union will discuss arrangements for workers to return to the port, Chan Chiu-wai, organizer at Union of Hong Kong Dockers, said by telephone Monday. Workers had earlier demanded a 23 percent gain, while employers offered a 7 percent increase.

The agreement ends the biggest labor action against Asia’s richest man, in which about 450 dock workers, crane operators and stevedores, walked out on March 28 demanding higher wages and better working conditions. The 40-day strike at the world’s third-largest container port spurred shipping lines to divert vessels to nearby Chinese ports, highlighting the increasing competition Hong Kong faces as costs escalate.

“The weak bargaining power and poor work conditions revealed by the strike could deter young people from working in the industry,” said Geoffrey Cheng, an analyst at Bank of Communications Co. “It is time for the government to think about its role and what it can really do for Hong Kong, which is already under threat amid rising competition.”

The workers, hired by contractors, will get an increase in wages from HK$55 per hour. The docks were operating at about 90 percent of capacity in the last week of April after new employees were hired and some strikers returned to work.

Hongkong International Terminals is operated by Hutchison Port Holdings Trust, whose largest shareholder is Li’s Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. Hutchison Port, along with partner Cosco Pacific Ltd., dominates half of the capacity at Hong Kong’s port. Hutchison Whampoa has interests in 52 ports globally from Panama to the Netherlands.

Terminals controlled by Hutchison Port also have a 46 percent market share in Shenzhen, where shipping lines including Evergreen Marine Corp Taiwan Ltd. diverted vessels because of the strike in Hong Kong.

“It’s surprising that the strike lasted for such a long time, which damaged Li’s reputation,” said Lawrence Li, an analyst at UOB-Kay Hian Holdings Ltd. Still, the financial impact on the port operator is “insignificant,” he said.

The dockworkers were demanding higher wages as rising living costs and record home prices spur discontent in the former British colony. Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., the city’s main carrier, in December agreed on a deal with the flight attendants union, averting labor disruptions threatened after disagreements on wage increases and working conditions.

As the strike lengthened, port workers had surrounded Li’s office building, Cheung Kong Center, in the Central business district. Hutchison Whampoa won a court injunction to have the workers, who earlier led marches with pictures of Li as a vampire, barred from the building. The workers could demonstrate outside Cheung Kong Center.

The bargaining power of workers, who say their wages are down from 1995, have been weakened in the past decade as Hong Kong loses market share to Chinese ports.

Boxes handled by Hong Kong port fell 5 percent to 23.1 million last year from 2011, according to Hong Kong Port Development Council. Total volumes at Shenzhen, China, rose 1.6 percent to 22.9 million containers, according to Shenzhen Ports Association. Shanghai and Singapore are the world’s two biggest container ports.

Some workers were told last month they will lose their jobs as Global Stevedoring Service Co., one of the contractors which employs them, decided to wind up operations because it wasn’t able to meet the salary demands.

The port added temporary workers to help resume operation, and also offered more money to 300 crane operators who started a work-to-rule action on April 4 in support of the strike.

The daily financial loss caused by the strike was “significantly” cut in the last two weeks in April, Hongkong International said April 23, without elaboration. The daily loss narrowed to HK$2.4 million on April 5 from HK$5 million earlier, it said.

Li is boosting his dominance at Hong Kong port as Hutchison Port in March bought a box terminal from DP World Ltd. and a partner. The deal would happen because there is no anti-trust law in Hong Kong, according to Ronny Tong, a lawmaker and a barrister specializing in commercial, shipping and company laws.

After the deal, Hutchison Port’s share in the city’s port will be boosted to 64 percent of capacity, up from 55 percent, according to UOB-Kay Hian Holdings data. The city has a total of nine terminals.


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300% Pay Raises

A striking analysis from comrade Richard Chen:


The container terminal makes margins of 30%. The profit is about 400 million US dollars a year. (Numbers are from documents supplied by the dockers union).

The largest estimate I’ve seen of the number of people who work at the terminal, including crane operators, lashers, checkers and truck drivers, is about 3,000 people.

Let’s imagine that the Port makes “only” a 15% return on investment, a profit of $200 million. That is still an incredibly generous return (inflation in Hong Kong is about 3.6%). That leaves $200 million to be distributed to the dock workers. Divide up 200 million dollars amongst 3,000 people . . . that comes out to a raise of $65,000. PER PERSON. That’s assuming everybody works full-time and you don’t have to divvy the money up amongst part-timers – that would make the raise even higher. So the dockers could get a raise of MORE THAN THREE HUNDRED PERCENT. Everybody on that dock should make wages like they do in the ILWU. That is still assuming Li Ka Shing makes $200 million a year.

Meanwhile management is offering 9 percent. I’m just saying.

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HIT steps up to break up the strike

From HKCTU-IHLO – 20 April 2013 

HIT shows no sign of conceding to the strike. HIT uses the close down of Global, announced on 18 April, to step up the pressure on the strikers. The moves of HIT in the last two days are prepared to demoralize the strike and turn the public sympathy around. 

Global stevedoring, whose service contract with HIT is due on 30 June 2013 announced in high-profile close down on 18 April putting the blame on the strike and the union. The close down of Global is used to strengthen the bargaining position of HIT and the other contractors by misleading the public to believe that the salary demands for 24% of UHKD is un-acceptable in the market. The close down statement of Global was aimed to turn the public opinion around and isolate UHKD, HKCTU and the striker.

On the other hand, HIT has negotiated a deal with the HIT Union agreeing to give OT compensation of 1.4times the hourly rate, close to what the HIT union demands. The HIT labour-management meeting announced late last night an end to the work-to-rule effective from 12am of 20 April. The HIT union accepted the deal which was not put under a CBA and called its members to resume normal work.

This is followed by the HIT which put up a public statement in the local newspaper today to further undermine the strike. The statement criticizes the strikers’ demand for 20% increase in wages is “impossible to achieve”, “beyond the capacity of any company in the industry to satisfy” and will “collapse more companies leading to disastrous results”. The statement repeats that the striking workers are not the employees of the company. The company is only a party using the service of the contractors and is not obliged to negotiate wages with the workers. Besides wages, issue of long working hours should be negotiated between the contractors and the workers. HIT calls both parties to make concessions, particularly the workers to consider the “5%+2” proposal that Everbest proposed and return to negotiation with the contractor.

The other contracting companies also move in to divide the strikers by calling them up and inviting them, including the employees of Global, to join their companies.


The “5%+2” wage proposal held by the contractors, is believably the bottom line of HIT. This was the line kept by the contractors before the strike broke out and by now no major concession on the basic wage has been made except for giving meal allowances.


The striking workers are still very united and refuse to leave the picket line. The public assembly called by UHKD last night in front of Cheung Kong Centre was attended by about 2000 people under heavy rain. UHKD and HKCTU are demanding HIT and at least two contractors to come back for negotiation of a standard wage for the works UHKD represents.