Clashes erupted Monday at Tsing Yi’s Cheung Fat Market as stall operators protested moves made by the facility’s owner, the Link Real Estate Investment Trust (Link REIT).
Stall owners were angry over Link REIT’s decision to outsource the market’s management operations, prompting them to launch a week-long strike.
As they launched the strike, Link REIT brought in some new people to operate the vacant stalls, adding to the frustration of the original operators of the shops, Apple Daily reported.
In the presence of several legislators, more than 50 stall operators announced Monday morning that they have begun a 7-day strike.
It came after Link REIT, which has been conducting market renovations in recent years, decided to outsource management of the Cheung Fat Market to Uni-China (Market) Management Ltd.
Stall owners protested, saying that Link REIT did not communicate with them beforehand on the matter. They urged the owner to halt the outsourcing deal as they fear rents will rise under the new management.
Meanwhile, a group of different stall operators suddenly showed up at the market at 2 pm and occupied the vacant stalls to do business.
This incensed the striking stall operators and led to confrontations with the new occupants.
Clashes ensued between the two groups and police were called in to maintain order. Chaos persisted until about 5 pm when the new stall operators left.
Admitting that the new operators came at its request, Link REIT said its decision was aimed at meeting the local residents’ daily needs for vegetables, fruit and frozen meat.
People should not be inconvenienced by the stall operators’ strike, it said.
Meanwhile, it also promised to provide residents with free shuttles to help them with shopping in nearby supermarkets.
Li Kam-yuen, chairman of the stall operators federation, said Link REIT is to blame for the strike decision.
He called on stall operators and people living in the neighborhood to join a protest in front of the headquarters of Link REIT on Tuesday.
Apple Daily found that Link REIT has been outsourcing management of several markets to Uni-China in recent years, including Leung King Estate in Tuen Mun.
The Tuen Mun market has been in the news recently as a group of masked men who identified themselves as members of the “management team” were said to have been harassing and forbidding street hawkers from doing business in the area during Lunar New Year holidays.
Uni-China has been accused of forcing small stall operators to give up their shops by raising the rents and imposing other harsh conditions, the report said.
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