City in shock as dock workers found to be sexy

In a sense, industrial relations problems are by definition the fault of the bosses; a management that does its job properly doesn’t get trouble from employees. The exact rights and wrongs at Kwai Tsing container terminals are complicated by the fact that port operator Hongkong International Terminals outsources the actual dock work. Such an arrangement can encourage exploitation of workers if the operator drives such a hard bargain that the sub-contractors have to underpay the employees (as happened when the Hong Kong government outsourced cleaning back in pre-minimum wage days). The operator can wash its hands of any involvement, and indeed HIT hasn’t put a press release on-line since November.

Much of the press and industry would have us believe that this strike is a threat to Hong Kong’s port (or ‘status’ as a leading one) and this is in turn a threat to the well-being of the city itself. The truth is, the port is a sunset industry – even without factoring in any long-term decline of the Pearl River Delta’s low-value, high-volume export manufacturing sector. If, horror of horrors, the berths and cranes move to nasty upstart Shenzhen, what happens? We lose thousands of filthy trucks clogging up our roads and thousands of containers piled up all over the place; meanwhile, we gain lots of semi-downtown space for useful things like housing and parks.

What really makes this strike interesting – political, to be exact – is that HIT is part of tycoon Li Ka-shing’s empire. The sensible, harmonious pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions is largely standing on the sidelines in the dispute, while the pro-democracy Confederation of Trade Unions and the Labour Party are taking high-profile roles. Students and other activists are also joining in and raising funds for the strikers. Who said dock workers aren’t sexy? This conflict has the potential to attract much broader support from that sizable part of the community with a grudge against property tycoons and the establishment in general. A citywide boycott of Li’s Park N Shop supermarket chain, anyone?

But, like the prospect of the container port suddenly moving across the border, we are probably running ahead of ourselves. If anyone’s going to put pressure on the employers, it will be the government. The last thing it needs, with political reform and Occupy Central in the works, is a rallying point for anti-establishment labour and all the other opposition troublemakers and disgruntled citizenry. And let’s not forget that Beijing has just ordered Li and his fellow tycoons to support Chief Executive CY Leung’s administration. Some sort of compromise solution is more than likely. Spoilsports.

On a brighter note, I can declare the Ching Ming one-day non-weekend open, almost.

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10 Responses to City in shock as dock workers found to be sexy

  1. It’s coming to something when even the New China Morning Post does a background interview with a dock worker which seems to actually sympathise with him.

    Wonder how they managed to get that one past Wang Xiangwei

    Everyone deserves a living wage. You must however remember that KS Li has to reserve a lot of money for the future fockups of his progeny, notably the multiply challenged Richard.

  2. Sojourner says:

    When in doubt cite either Wilde or Orwell. Wilde most definitely found dockers sexy. As for Orwell I incline to his perspective on these matters:

    “I have no particular love for the idealized ‘worker’ as he appears in the bourgeois Communist’s mind, but when I see an actual flesh-and-blood worker in conflict with his natural enemy, the policeman, I do not have to ask myself which side I am on.”

  3. Stephen says:

    Alas this will fizzle out and the strikers will get what they want – Hurrah! Similar thing happened at Watson’s Water a few years back which is also part of the evil empire.

    On the assumption that the Pro-Dems don’t buggar it up how will the government deal the Occupy Central movement is of far more interest. The hirsute Andy Tsang leading his battle hardened, from the 2005 WTO festivities, riot police into combat or attempt to find “consensus” within the community in the face of an intransigent Beijing.

    All this a re-launched (again?) NTSCMP, as well as this site, to keep up dated.

  4. MeKnowNothing says:

    I’m still waiting for somebody to twig on the significance of the court order HIT got in order to keep those meddlesome students from joining the strikers inside the container terminal…

    Can’t possibly help http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Container_Security_Initiative

    Got a security problem? Export it!

    Happy Spring Arson Festival to all!

  5. Dream Bear says:

    I’ve got to agree with Stephen. The strike will fizzle out. A good portion of the original strikers have settled already and are back at work, something the media is under reporting. Further, the students will be back in class next week preparing for summer exams. As soon as the press lose interest, then working class hero LEE Jerk-yan will quietly leave the scene.

  6. aghast says:

    Otis Redding? Hurrah! I reckon that’s the first ever non-white hemlock tune.

  7. Property Developer says:

    Joining the dots between Hemlock’s understatement and hints, the objective conditions for revolution are when the grassroots and bourgeoisie, ie dock workers and students/pro-dems, join hands — hence all the negative propaganda and court orders, to nip any fraternising in the bud.

  8. Real Sex Player says:

    If dockyard workers are now sexy, what do we make of this very latest story posted on the SCMP on-line edition ? (I joke not)

    ‘Submissions wanted,’ says Guangzhou scholar seeking masturbation videos on Weibo

    PS : What does Bela’ s NTSCMP stand for ?

    “New Theme of Sexy Chinese Masturbation Postings “?

  9. Alex says:

    And let’s not forget that the Polish dock workers ‘Solidarity’ movement helped bring about the beginning of the end of Communism in the early 1980s. Now there’s food for thought!

  10. If Otis Redding is Hemlock’s first non-white offering, then it’s news to me that the Four Tops (posted back in January) were white. Perhaps Levi Stubbs’ tears washed off their colour?

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