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Cargo traffic at Hongkong International Terminals almost halves due to ongoing strike - report

(SeeNews) - Apr 9, 2013 - Hongkong International Terminals (HIT) saw its cargo traffic plunge between 40% and 50% since the start of the dockers' walkout at its Kwai Tsing terminals 12 days ago, as more ships divert cargo to other ports, an unnamed shipping industry insider told South China Morning Post.

However, according to Dr Paul Tsui Hon-yan, chairman of the Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics (AFFL), the cargo volumes at HIT decreased between 20% and 30%, as it normally moves between 28 to 30 containers per hour and now processes only 21 boxes per hour. The strike has also resulted in shortage of operators for HIT's 44 cranes and only 34 units are now being used at its five terminals.

Currently, some 120,000 containers are stuck at Port of Hong Kong, AFFL data showed. This corresponds to a delay in handling of imported cargo of between one and ten days and two and six days for the exports.

Sunny Ho Lap-kee, executive director of Hong Kong Shippers' Council, is even concerned that if the walkout continues some of the ships would never call back at the port, South China Morning Post said.

Although at first HIT refused to negotiate the dock workers' demand for a pay rise, explaining that the workers were not directly hired by it, the terminal operator now expressed willingness to meet with the strikers.

Separately, HIT met with the union that represents 300 dockers directly employed by it over their demand for overtime pay of 1.5 times the current wages.

HIT proposed a rate of 1.2 times, as well as a progressive rate based on the dockers' rank and a day off for every 32 hours of overtime worked, the union's president Wong Kwai-ting told South China Morning Post, adding that he would discuss the proposals with the dockers.

HIT is controlled by Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH) Trust (SGX:NS8U).

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