[UPDATE] Hutchison Hong Kong Port Unit Hopes to Resume Normal Operations Soon
The Hong Kong port unit of billionaire Li Ka-shing's Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (0013.HK) hopes to return to its normal operating capacity soon, as subcontractors and striking dockworkers plan to enter talks Wednesday in a bid to settle a wage dispute.
Hongkong International Terminals, which operates 16 of Hong Kong's 24 deepwater ship berths and has a 70% market share in terms of port handling volume, said in a statement Tuesday that operations are at 80% of its daily average cargo volume with a strike involving 450 dockworkers well into its second week.
"We are making every effort to ensure the steady flow of cargo through the terminals. There are no containers stranded," the company said.
It said earlier that the strike is costing the company US$644,000 a day.
The labor unions representing the dockworkers said the city's Labor Department has arranged a meeting between the subcontractors and dockworkers Wednesday.
The company has outsourced some of its operations at the terminal to several subcontractors, which are in charge of the dockworkers. The striking dockworkers account for only a part of the total number of workers serving the terminal operator.
Despite Hongkong International Terminals' effort to distance itself from the strike, it said it has agreed to sit in at the meetings. The company has called on the subcontractors to negotiate with the dockworkers for a resolution.
The dockworkers are demanding a 20% pay rise to a daily wage of HK$1,600, equivalent to a monthly salary of HK$24,000 (US$3,091). In contrast, Hongkong International Terminals said earlier that the subcontractors have agreed to raise the dockworkers' salaries by 5% this year and that they would be making HK$21,000 a month, up from HK$17,000 in 1997.