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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Hong Kong Dockworkers End 40-Day Strike

Monday May 6, 2013, 9:07 AM


Associated Press

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(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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Dockers’ strike shines a spotlight on Li Ka-shing’s business empire

Reposting from CWI-affiliated

Li Ka-shing owns 13 percent of the world’s port capacity and much more besides…

Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI supporters in Hong Kong)

Hong Kong dockers have been engaged in a determined struggle against a super-rich tycoon for more than five weeks now. (See “Hong Kong: Dockworkers strike lays bare class divisions“) This article, carried on Chinaworker web-site, gives the background to dock-owner Li Ka shing’s vast international business empire.

In Hong Kong it is the tycoons like Li Ka-shing that rule. The inspiring month-long port strike has illuminated this fact clearly, opening the eyes of more and more people. Six tycoon-owned conglomerates dominate Hong Kong’s economy, swallowing at least 23 cents in every dollar spent, including 90 percent of its supermarket sales and two-thirds of its private housing market according to the Wall Street Journal. These business empires stretch across all sectors – you cannot take a bus ride, shop in a mall, make a phone call, stay in a hotel, watch a movie, or light up your home, never mind buy an apartment, without making these tycoon families even wealthier. This is where the term ‘property hegemony’ comes from, given that these tycoon clans between them control the property market including commercial rent levels, which turns small businesses into slaves of the tycoons.

At the apex of this power structure is Li Ka-shing, the world’s eighth richest man, with a personal fortune valued at US$31 billion (HK$241 billion) according to Forbes magazine. He owns companies that make up 15 percent of the stock market (measured by the total value of shares). Last year, Li and Hong Kong’s other billionaires did very well. Li’s fortune rose by US$8 billion (HK$62 billion).

To put this into perspective, the increase in Li Ka-shing’s wealth over the past 12 months is almost enough money to finance Hong Kong’s education budget for a year (HK$63 billion) and almost equals what the Hong Kong government made from land sales last year (HK$69 billion). Other tycoons also did well, if not quite as well as Li. Henderson chief Lee Shau-kee increased his personal worth by HK$23 billion last year, to HK155 billion. Serious corruption charges and a family feud did not stop the Kwok brothers increasing their wealth by HK$31 billion last year (source: Forbes list).

For Hong Kong’s masses it is a different story. The wealth gap is now the most extreme in any developed economy. Poverty has become “endemic” in the city according to the Hong Kong Council for Social Services (HKCSS). For the first time there are over 300,000 elderly people living below the poverty line – the number is 305,000. According to economist Andy Xie, Hong Kong’s average wages have only risen 1.5 percent per year in the past decade, below the rate of inflation.

See more here

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Striking dockers reject latest offer

May 4, 2013 by
Striking dockers reject latest offer Hundreds of striking dock workers have voted down a 9.8 percent pay rise offered by the contractors which employ them at the container terminal. They are still insisting on a double-figure increase and direct talks with the employers, warning that the strike will continue until a satisfactory resolution is reached. Unionist Wong Yu-loy said the strikers were angry with the contractors for making the offer through the media. He said the employers should return to the negotiating table to discuss the pay offer as well as working conditions, health and safety issues, rest times and meal breaks. However, a spokesman for one of the contractors said it was regrettable that the workers had refused the offer, and repeated that it was final and that there would be no more talks. He also said the company had started recruiting new staff to counter the impact of the industrial action. (RTHK)

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More dockers join the strike!

To read the Union of Hong Kong Dock Workers update, see here

To donate to the expanding strike, see here

Listen to the interview with strike organizer here

More Dockers Join Strike


Striking dockers say much of the operations at the Kwai Chung container have been paralysed after dozens more workers joined the month-long strike there. Around 80 workers for contractor Comcheung walked out this morning.

A representative of the group has joined a fifth round of negotiations over the pay disupte. Unionist leader Stanley Ho says the swelling numbers of strikers, now above 500, has put more pressure on port operator, Hongkong International Terminals.

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Hong Kong Dock Workers call for global solidarity: Boycott Li Ka Shing!


Supporting Hong Kong Dockers’ Strike:

Global Conscience Pledge to Boycott all Li Ka Shing’s Products

1995至今,香港通帳累積高達28.5%,但香港國際碼頭(Hong Kong International Terminals, HIT)的工人月薪竟然低於18年前的水平。每當香港面臨經濟危機 HIT每每要求工人共渡時艱,單方面要求員工減薪,但經濟好轉時,HIT 卻拒絕與工人分享利潤。2013年3月28日,工人終於在忍無可忍的情況下發起罷工行動。罷工以來, HIT拒絕承認責任,直指工人乃外判公司之員工,HIT在追求利益最大化同時,也將責任轉嫁給外判商,懶理這些外判商侵害勞工權利的種種問題。作為李嘉誠全球王國下的消費者,我們強烈譴責HIT及其大老闆、亞洲首富李嘉誠罔顧企業社會責任,並願意以消費者力量,罷買李嘉誠商品,與香港HIT碼頭罷工工人並肩抗爭。

Since 1995, Hong Kong’s inflation has risen cumulatively to 28.5%, but the wages of the dockers at Hong Kong International Terminals (HIT) is surprisingly lower than the level 18 years ago. Every time Hong Kong faces an economic downturn, HIT asks for a pay cut to weather the difficult time through; whereas when there is a profit, HIT shamelessly refuses to share the profit with its dedicated employees. On 28th March 2013, the dockers no longer tolerate HIT’s greed and go on strike. During the strike, HIT shed its responsibility to its sub-contractors, claiming that those dockers were only the employees of the sub-contractors. Having only profits in mind, HIT also shifted its responsibilities to its workers, leaving them to merciless exploitation and inhumane working conditions. As the consumers of much of Li Ka-shing’s global enterprises, we strongly condemn HIT and its head, also the richest man in Asia, Li Ka-shing, ignoring corporate social responsibility. We pledge make use of the power of consumers, boycott Li Ka-shing’s products and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the dockers at strike!



The Evilness of Sub-contracting – Exploitation under the name of Efficiency

In the past 20 years, both public and private organizations in Hong Kong have gone through the tide of sub-contracting its services, intending to exploit every drop of manpower from the workers for money. Powerless as they are, the grassroots workers have no choice but to shut up and work. All their effort, nonetheless, do not earn the respect from their employers – their salaries fell and the amount of work has yet been endlessly mounting still! Silence has only proved to make the contemptible deeds of exploitation unrestrained and therefore dockers are here to fight back. This campaign aims not only to target against HIT, but also to ignite the resistance to the system of sub-contracting. It is of great significance that our success in the strike adds fuel to the battle against the sub-contracting!



Strike! Boycott! – Say No to Hegemony!

This strike also reveals an inconvenient truth – the exploitation of the dockers lay roots also to the hegemony of Li’s enterprises. Li has unimaginable control over Hong Kong’s docks, in addition to his oligarchic ownership in many other aspects of daily consumption. It includes Cheung Kong Holdings, Hong Kong Electric, Harbour Plaza Hotel, Parknshop, Taste, Fortress, Watson, and Hutchison Telecommunications. Forced is every single one of us to be the consumers of his enterprises. Li, as the top of the four giant property developers, has devoted himself into the game of monopoly and speculation. His selfish act has pushed up Hong Kong’s property prices to the top of the world, that is why anti-hegemony has become the number-one agendum of Hong Kong’s social movements in recent years. The strike has clearly reminded us that we are all the victims of the hegemony. Together we must stand together to wrestle against these giants.

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Hong Kong strike expands after 36 days! More than 100 on-shore and on-board checkers join!

Now that the strike has expanded, the Union of Hong Kong Dockers is needing to fundraise more for the strike fund.

Please contribute HERE! Thank You!

Dockers strike- May Day 2 (1)


Today more than 100 on-shore and on-board checkers join the strike. They are employed by Comcheung Human Resources Ltd which by now has one-third of its employees working in the terminals putting down their tools. The checkers of Comcheung complained that they were made to work 24- and 48-hour shifts to clear the piled-up cargos since the strike has broken out on 28 March. They were also promised to have their wages increased by 20% in two years. That was later reduced to 5% in 2013, believably to be the bottom line of “5+2%” held by HIT and Hutchison. Unable to secure further commitment from Comcheung about the effective date and the scale of the pay rise, more than 100 checkers joined the picket line this morning.

The fourth round of negotiation will re-convene today. Union of Hong Kong Dockers (UHKD) is asking the Labour Department to extend the negotiation to include Everbest and Comcheung as most of their employees are now on strike. The union’s bargaining power is strengthened as by now 550 dock workers are on strike for the 36th day.

More than 5000 people joined the May Day demonstration yesterday which is record-high in recent years in HK, thanks mainly to the community-wide support to the dockers’ strike. The local support group is also preparing a call for global action to boycott Hutchison’s products and retail services.

 Dockers strike- May day 3

Dockers strike- May Day