Dockworkers' strike slows down Hong Kong port

China Featured - April 6th, 2013

Traffic at one of the world’s busiest ports, in Hong Kong, rolled down to a near stop as a pay dispute waged by hundreds of dockworkers dragged into a second week.

Several hundred stevedores, dockworkers and supporters demanding a 20% pay rise camped out on the main access road to one of the container terminals on Wednesday.

Lee Cheuk-yan, a legislator and union leader, said the dockworkers were angry about the subcontractors, which offered only a 5% increase, reports Financial Times.

“When there are layers of companies exploiting the workers, workers get very little,” Lee said at the strikers’ camp.

Hutchison International Terminals which operates the terminal where the workers are striking said the action has cost the company 5 million Hong Kong dollars ($644,000) a day.

“There are some disruptions, particularly for the importers,” which are seeing some shipments of perishable goods like fruit rot because they’re sitting on the dock longer, said Willy Lin, chairman of the Hong Kong Shippers’ Council. “On the export side, it’s slower to get the containers out of the terminals”.

Some shipping companies have diverted their ships away from Hong Kong because of the strike. Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines said a Europe-bound ship would stop in Vietnam instead of Hong Kong to avoid delays.

Hong Kong is the world’s third-busiest port by container volume, behind the mainland Chinese cities of Shanghai and Shenzhen, according to World Shipping Council data.