In the spring of 2013, a 40 day strike by 500 dockworkers at the Hong Kong Port aroused massive support in Hong Kong society and throughout the world. The target was one of the world's richest and most powerful men - oligarch Li Kai-shing.
The Hong Kong dockworkers, suffering years of frozen wages and inhumane conditions, divided by a subcontracting system meant to deflect labor unity, with no legal access to collective bargaining, in heart of the global capital's leading city... struggled and prevailed, giving us a clear view of the power of workers against not merely one boss, but a system that is generating inequality everywhere it spreads. Their tenacity, militancy and ultimate victory provides a moment of inspiration for citizens and workers universally.
The Union Portuarios de Chile, which is the national port federation, has had several important nation-wide strikes in the past couple of years; the most recent being in January when a three-week strike at the peak of the agricultural harvest and export season won the dockworkers back-pay for stolen lunch breaks.
The Union Portuarios de Iquique is a member of this federation.The Port of Iquique is important strategically in the global trade of copper as it's Chile's biggest export node of that commodity; Chile exports more copper than any other country.
Stephan Chan is a rank & file dockworker, employed as a sub-contracted checker in the Kwai Tung terminal. He helped to organize the Union of Hong Kong Dockers (UHKD) in 2005 and served as its first chairperson. He remains one of the core leaders of the union and played a vital role during the April 2013 strike.
Loy Wong is an organizing secretary of Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), with more than 12 years of experience in the trade union. He leads the organizing and support work for unions in the transportation and logistics sector, including the Union of Hong Kong Dockworkers.
Nelson Leopoldo Francino Valdes has been the president of the FeTraPI, the Federacion de Trabajadores Portuarios de Iquique, and has served in this position while being a rank-and-file casual at the Port of Iquique.since Dececember 2012.
Other stops on the US speaking tour are Chicago (for the Labor Notes Confernce), Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle (the latter two will only be the Hong Kong dockers).
More information on the tour at the Empire-Logistics blog on libcom.org.
China & Hong Kong labor reading group put together by comrades in Seattle.
The San Francisco event is co-sponsored by the Empire-Logistics/Global Supply Chains study/research group of the San Francisco Public School.