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Talks fail to break Hong Kong port strike
by Staff Writers
Hong Kong (AFP) April 10, 2013

Talks between contractors for a Hong Kong port operator owned by tycoon Li Ka-shing and striking workers failed to resolve a wage dispute Wednesday, with no end in sight to the two-week-long protest.

As many as 400 workers from Hongkong International Terminals (HIT) have been camping at the container port to seek a pay rise amid soaring costs in the city, one of the world's busiest container ports.

The workers' representatives met the contractors for the first time Wednesday at a meeting mediated by the government's labour department but it failed to reach any consensus.

"We've only talked about the work conditions. We haven't even had a chance to discuss the salary," Union of Hong Kong Dockers representative Wong Shiu-cheung said after the meeting.

Wong said it was not clear whether the negotiations would resume, but the workers were willing to hold talks "at any time".

HIT has distanced itself from the labour dispute, saying the workers were hired through contractors and has said the action is costing the firm HK$5 million ($645,000) a day and has slowed operations.

Wong Chi-tak, spokesman for one of the contractors, Everbest Port Services, said the firm was "trying our best to solve this problem quickly".

HIT, which operates 12 berths, is a unit of tycoon Li's Hutchison Port Holdings Trust -- part of the vast empire owned by Asia's richest man, whose firms control about 70 percent of the city's port traffic.


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