freedom of assembly, Labour Rights

Striking Dockyard Workers May Protest Outside Cheung Kong Center, Court said

Striking Dockyard Workers gathered outside Cheung Kong Center for Protests

Striking Dockyard Workers gathered outside Cheung Kong Center for Protests

The High Court has ruled that dockyard workers on strike may occupy the open space outside Cheung Kong Center for rallies and demonstrations.

On 25th April, 2013, the property manager applied to the High Court for injunction against the dockyard striking workers for inter alia stationing outside Cheung Kong Center for protests. Today, the High Court ruled that the open space outside Cheung Kong Center was a public space and therefore the striking workers had the freedom to station there for demonstrations and rallies. The workers celebrated this as a victory outside the Court after learning of the results. This happened despite the fact that the Court upheld the prohibition against the workers on entering Cheung Kong Center and ordered part of the structures erected at Cheung Kong Center be removed.

Since late April this year, the striking dockyard workers has been stationing outside Cheung Kong Center to protest. They erected tents and pull-up banners outside the building and had organized rallies, frequently shouting slogans loudly against Li Ka-shing, the chairman of Cheung Kong group and the richest man in Asia. One of the most widely used slogans include “Boss Li, return the money”, aiming at Li. The property manager of the building had argued before the Court that the conduct of the striking workers had obstructed the public’s access to the building and had constituted fire hazards around. The Court rejected the manager most part of the arguments and said that the workers’ activities at the open space outside Cheung Kong Center had been peaceful.

The current strike began on 28th March this year, when several hundred subcontracted workers at Hongkong International Terminals (HIT), a unit of Mr. Li’s Hutchison Port Holdings Trust, walked off the job to push for a two-digit percentage of pay rise as well as other better working conditions. The striking workers have attracted wide support from people in Hong Kong, who have donated millions of dollars to them to support their daily living. Donations have also included food, beverages and various other daily utility items. Despite wide public sympathy to the workers’ causes, there appears no signs that the situation can be resolved in due course.

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