Marchers call for talks over docks face-off
More than 4,000 protesters, including Hongkong International Terminals contracted workers, marched on the Central Government Offices calling on the government to negotiate an end to the 11-day docks strike. The protest came yesterday as Confederation of Trade Unions leader Lee Cheuk-yan urged Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to press the port operator to negotiate with workers.
“Leung and HIT operator Hutchison Whampoa have good communications. I think it will be useful if the government takes a stand and forces the company to the negotiating table,” Lee said.
The protesters, many with red ribbons tied around their foreheads and holding roses, set off from Victoria Park at around 3pm. They stopped at the Cheung Kong Center – offices of Hutchison chairman Li Ka-shing – around 5pm and threw paper balls into its entrance. They then moved on and arrived at the offices in Tamar at around 5.45pm. Police said there were 2,800 people at the height of the protest.
A crane operator, surnamed Leung, took along along his wife and 2-year-old daughter. “I joined the sector three years ago and I earn only HK$13,000 a month with a 12-hour shift,” Leung said. “I am not worried about my financial status as I have received donations. What’s more important is dignity and we want to get it back.”
Stanley Ho Wai-hong, spokesman for the Union of Hong Kong Dockers, said workers are open to communication but HIT and the three contractors must take part in the talks. CTU chief executive Mung Siu-tat told City Forum the union is trying its best to help the workers while Liberal Party leader Selina Chow Liang Suk- yee said the strike is becoming too emotional.
A government spokesman said the Labour Department continues to actively assist all parties in the conciliation process. Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung appealed to all parties to show mutual understanding and narrow their differences. Earlier, HIT announced it will give HK$3,000 to staff and contracted dock workers, and a further HK$2,000 will be given a month after normal operations resume.
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