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.