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19/04/2013

Showdown looms

The decision by one of the contractors at the Hongkong International Terminals to close down in June is seen by analysts as a ploy to get the striking dockers back to work.Global Stevedoring Service's move is like "detonating a bomb," City University political scientist James Sung Lap-kung said Hong Kong Festival, as it "puts pressure on the Confederation of Trade Unions and the workers to resolve the pay dispute with contractors."

In its announcement yesterday, Global said it could not afford the 20 percent pay rises demanded by the strikers, leaving the firm with no alternative but to close shop when its contract with HIT expires on June 30.

This despite an operator of the contractor telling the media - several hours before the announcement - that the company would continue to negotiate with the dockers with the help of the Labour Department.

"The closure [decision] is a heavy-handed tactic to push labor unions and striking workers back to the negotiation table," another analyst said.

"The move is certainly a blow to the union and workers. It sends a clear message that the labor union and workers have to be pragmatic with their demands."

On Wednesday, five contractors, including Everbest Port Services and Global, published a statement in several Chinese-language newspapers, stating they are actively pursuing many proposals and hoping that the strikers would understand that they may not be able to meet all their demands Cloud Service.

"Employers, including HIT and contractors, have been only slightly affected as contractors can still recruit workers to replace striking staff," the analyst said. "The bigger effect will be on the workers, like those at Global who may lose their jobs."

Sung said: "Global has detonated a bomb by saying it is closing its business."

He said the strike has had a minimal impact on HIT and Hutchison Whampoa as Li Ka-shing's business empire still runs port facilities in Shenzhen. But the move will now put the workers and the trade union organizing the strike on the defensive.

Sung said it is possible that Everbest may soon adopt a similar tactic.

"Compared to the contractors franklin templeton, the workers face a greater loss," Sung said.