In the press

Updated: 2013-04-19 06:14

(HK Edition)

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In the press

A bona fide political show

The industrial action at Kwai Chung container port has become a bona fide political campaign after the sit-in protest was moved from Terminal 6 to a public space outside Cheung Kong Center in Central on Tuesday. Controlled by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (CTU), the striking workers set up camps in front of the office tower. The move surprised many people and could very well be a scaled-down test run of the "Occupy Central" movement the opposition camp plans to launch later this year.

It is surprising because the labor dispute was in fact showing signs of hope after two contractors that hired the striking workers offered a pay raise of nearly 10 percent. The offer was not very far from the 12 percent increase proposed by the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) on behalf of the workers. It was at this critical moment the CTU finally let go of its pretence by forbidding the workers to meet their employers again, accusing the other side of "insincerity" and refusing to return to the negotiating table. It then rounded up about 200 workers and took them to Cheung Kong Center in the heart of Hong Kong's central business district, saying they intended to "occupy that spot indefinitely."

The industrial action hindered daily operations at the container terminal in the beginning with considerable loss of business in addition to further weakening Hong Kong's position as an international shipping center. Now many people who work in or near Cheung Kong Center, including expatriates, are complaining about the troubles caused by the "occupy CKC" crowd. And the mess will only grow from now on, as the site is bound to become a noisy dirty dump very soon, adding an eyesore as well as health risks to the area apart from disrupting social order and splitting society with economic losses to boot.

This is an excerpted translation of a Ta Kung Pao editorial published on April 18.

(HK Edition 04/19/2013 page1)