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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Interview with Hong Kong Dockworker

Interview with Stephen Chan, Hong Kong Dock Worker

by SG
Stephan Chan, Hong Kong Dockworker

My name is Stephen Chan. I live in the New Territories, Hong Kong. I have two children – a boy and a girl. I’ve been working at the docks as a checker for 18 years. In 1995 I got paid 1,456 HKD ($188 USD) for a 24-hour shift. The companies cut our pay during SARS and the Asian economic crisis. At one point we were making as little as 1,060 HKD ($137 USD) for a 24-hour shift. Now I get paid 1,315 HKD ($169 USD) for a 24 hour shift.

We work no matter what. We work when the wind is smashing us, the rain is pounding us, the sun is bearing down on us…we may even work during a typhoon! We are so close to the trucks so that all day we breathe pollution.

We work 24 hour shifts, sometimes these shifts are back to back. When at work we can’t leave, we take our breaks in the dock. Our break area has small cubicles that are about 1.5 to 2 feet wide and have a 5-6 foot chair in them for us to rest on. The break area fits about 100 people. If there’s no space, workers are forced to rest on the floor and in the staircases. The workers who are operating the cranes must take all their meals and rest up in the crane – they don’t come down. They also must go to the bathroom in that area as well. This all means that we do not get real rest while working these long shifts.

In the past we had more workers. It used to be that I worked in a team of 9. Now its cut down to 6. In the past we had 15-16 containers per hour, now we have 25. The company pushes us so much, this situation is really difficult.

There were some Australians who came by here and said that they think we are treated like dirt on the floor. That was their own words, not mine.

I want rest time and to have a little money to prepare for life. Our wives and children and families are behind us because they understand why we walked out. All we want is a contract that returns our wage to what it was in 1995. We aren’t even asking for an increase, just to return our wages to what they were in the past. We want to improve the work environment. I hope that we can have a more equal relationship between the company and the workers in the future.

To donate to the dock worker’s strike fund online, see here


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All On the Same Ocean – Video of the Hong Kong Dockworker’s Strike

“On March 29th, 2013, about 200 dockworkers in Hong Kong went on strike at the Kwai Tsing Container Terminal.

The strike, which has since expanded to about 500 dockers and crane operators, is one of the most significant labor actions in Hong Kong’s recent history because this is the first time that a strike has targeted Li Ka Shing. With an estimated net worth of US$ 31 billion, Li is the eighth richest man in the world. He has a monopoly stake in many industries in Hong Kong and China, dictates much of Hong Kong’s politics and economic policy, and epitomizes Hong Kong’s rampant social inequality and the “get rich quick” capitalist ethos of the 80s. The dockworkers have garnered massive support from Hong Kong citizens, with the strikers raising more than US$500,000 for their strike fund, much of it collected from citizens at street corners.

As of this writing (April 17th), the strike is in its third week, with management refusing to accede to the docker’s demands for wage increases and improvements in their living conditions. You can hear them speak for themselves about their work conditions in this video, which was taken from the first day of the strike.”

The video was produced by students from Left 21, a left organization in Hong Kong, and translated by Richard Chen of the International Bolshevik Tendency.