Stall owners at Tsing Yi’s Cheung Fat Market began a week-long strike on Monday in response to the real estate investment trust Link REIT’s decision to outsource the market’s management operations.
Stall owners led a protest around the market carrying banners and shouting slogans against the practices of the investment trust.
They fear that rents will rise again once management has been handed over, reported Now TV. They also said that Link REIT did not communicate with them beforehand.
Around 90 percent of the stall owners are said to be participating in the strike. Stall owners had already held a strike six years ago due to the investment trust raising rents.
According to Singtao Daily, the stall owners also want Link REIT to halt the outsourcing agreement and extend contracts by three years under their current terms.
The investment trust has said that the new market operator will not raise rent prices and that Link REIT will keep in contact with the store owners.
Because of the strike, some shoppers will have to walk to a market on Tsuen Wan’s Yeung Uk Road to buy fresh foods, reported Oriental Daily.
Cheung Fat market already has higher prices than other markets, and rents have almost doubled over ten years.
“There is no other way. If they say they want to raise the rents, they will raise the rents. We don’t have the right to stop them. I hope that the strike will have some effect. I don’t really shop here. I usually go to Tsuen Wan because the pork and other foods are cheaper there.” said one shopper in Chinese to Oriental Daily.
At the beginning of this month, a watchdog organisation released a report showing that foods in markets owned by Link REIT were priced 50-100 percent higher than that of neighbouring Food and Environmental Hygiene Department owned markets.
District council member Yip Wing said that shoppers were either forced put up with the expensive prices to go to other districts to buy food, reported InMedia on February 1, 2016.
Link REIT has been conducting renovations of the markets in recent years, leading to increased rent and food prices, which has put pressure on low income households.