Self-serving strike all about power

South China Morning Post (EDT14, 2013.04.26)


It is the fifth week of the container terminal strike, with Lee Cheuk-yan’s Confederation of Trade s mobilising these workers for a double-figure percentage salary increase.

The Lion Rock Institute has been and will always be in favour of efforts to increase the wages of workers, but what Lee has sought will not work.

Fifty years ago, it was Hong Kong that exported domestic helpers to the Philippines. We all know that it was the tool of free market policies and not s that created the opportunities of job and career changes that has led to higher living standards in every income group.

One can see the economic impact in this strike. Products that are time-sensitive, such as apples and oranges, rose significantly in price immediately after the strike started, the least well-off in this way being worst affected by the strike by those with higher incomes.

With the labour shortage now partially resolved, the embargoed fruit swamps the market, leading to a 40 per cent price cut on produce that can be sold, and that which cannot be sold is spoiled.

This is environmentally wasteful and causes painful losses to the many innocent fruit-importing small and medium-sized enterprises. One questions whether Lee knows about the futility of strikes.

However, it is not ignorance that I fear led to Lee’s strike.

By asking for a wage rise which is a multiple of the inflation rate, the s are gambling that management rejects their demand. Why? Because s want collective bargaining made law, which makes illegal the choice of those who want to work and not join a . Workers crossing the picket line would be arrested.

Lee’s priority is not the terminal workers’ pay rise, but the larger legislative war.

We must see through this conspiracy and stop any further legislation that enlarges bosses’ power and does not further workers’ interests.


Andrew Shuen, Research Director,  The Lion Rock Institute

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