Hong Kong Dockers Claim Victory

A 40-day strike of more than 500 dockworkers at the Port of Hong Kong ended yesterday with a settlement that included a 9.8 percent wage increase, non-retaliation against strikers, and a written agreement, all of which had been fiercely resisted by the four contractors targeted in the strike.

Strikers accepted the offer by a 90 percent vote.

The four contractors also agreed to work through the port manager Hong Kong International Terminal (HIT) to provide meal and toilet breaks, which had been lacking even for workers on 12- or 24-hour shifts. Crane operators laid off during the strike will be rehired.

Workers see HIT—owned by Li Ka-shing, one of the world’s wealthiest capitalists—as the real power at play, as the interview below demonstrates.

Though members of the Union of Hong Kong Dock Workers (UHKDW) had been holding to their demand for a double-digit wage increase, they had growing concerns about contractors’ use of scabs and the relative ease with which shippers could reroute from Hong Kong to the nearby mainland China port of Shenzhen. After the breakthrough accomplishment of forcing the contractors to negotiate, and clearly winning the battle of public opinion, strikers were ready to return to work.

The strike was notable in that dockworkers across multiple sub-contractors first self-organized, from the bottom up, before seeking affiliation for their union with the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU).

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