Hong Kong port workers vote to end strike

Hundreds of workers at a Hong Kong container port operated by tycoon Li Ka-shing voted Monday to end a 40-day strike, one of the city's longest-ever, after their employers offered a 9.8 percent pay rise.

The stoppage had disrupted traffic at Hong Kong's container port, the world's third busiest. Protests spread to the Central financial district, where workers staged demonstrations outside the headquarters of Li's Cheung Kong group.

The strikers, who at the height of the stoppage numbered 450, had been demanding a 20 percent pay rise.

Li's Hongkong International Terminals (HIT) had tried to distance itself from the dispute by repeatedly saying the protesters were workers hired through contractors.

The contractors agreed Friday to make a final offer of 9.8 percent to all workers, effective from the first day of this month.

"We say we've won half the battle. At least they offered all of the dock workers, not only the ones on strike but also the ones that are still working, a 9.8 percent raise in front of all Hong Kong people," said Union of Hong Kong Dock Workers general secretary Stanley Ho.

But not all workers were happy, according to Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions organising coordinator Chan Chiu-wai.

"To be honest, not all people are satisfied with this offer, because honestly, it is quite a bit off when compared with our initial goal," Chan told AFP.

"Everybody understands that... after the strike has gone on for so many days, if we continue to go on, we may not get any better offers," Chan said.

HIT, which operates 12 berths, is a unit of Li's Hutchison Port Holdings Trust, part of the business empire of Asia's richest man.

Li's firms control about 70 percent of the city's port traffic as well as many other businesses in the city.