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Catholics and public back dockers' strike

Hundreds protest over wages and conditions at port

Catholics and public back dockers' strike
Dock workers' representatives outside the terminal reporter, Hong Kong
Hong Kong

April 5, 2013

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Two diocesan commissions today called for Catholic support for dockworkers who have been on strike since March 28.

Hundreds of stevedores have remained outside the terminal even in pouring rain this week to demand a pay rise, which would be only their second in 10 years. 

In the diocesan weekly published today, the Justice and Peace and the Labor Affairs commissions gave their support to the workers, citing concern over conditions, including 12-hour days and low wages. 

The Hong Kong Labor Department arranged a meeting yesterday between the strikers and the labor subcontractors for a terminal owned by Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, but no resolution was reached.

“Our 10 representatives waited for two and a half hours, and only one of the four contractors came for the negotiation,” said dockworker Ah Fai, adding he expects the strike will go on for at least one more week.

The workers are reportedly demanding a 20 percent pay raise, making up for cuts over the past few years. 

Labor strikes are rare in Hong Kong. The last was a strike by structural steel workers in 2007 that lasted 36 days.

So far, more than HK$2 million (US$258,000) has been donated by a public sympathetic to the dockworkers, who say current salaries are effectively lower than in 1997. 

Hong Kong is the third busiest port in the world, moving 17 million containers in 2012. 

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