Hong Kong: Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions to dissolve

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For the last few months, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) has suffered attacks from state media. Added with the happenings to the Civil Human Rights Front, Hong Kong Professional Teachers Union, Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China etc, HKCTU’s members have prepared for a new climate under which there is no further room for HKCTU to survive.

No choice but to start dissolution after threats to personal safety of office-bearers

Over the recent couple of weeks, some members of HKCTU, one following another, received more information, hinting at us with a feeling that to sustain HKCTU may result in certain threats to the personal safety of those members. Since this problem originates from the existence of HKCTU, the resignation of particular office-bearers is simply no remedy. Taking the possible risks and costs the members may encounter if HKCTU continues to operate into account and following through discussion, HKCTU considers only to set out the current risks and perspectives to the affiliates for a deliberation and a resolution on the future of the organisation at the General Meeting.

The meeting of the Executive Committee on Thursday, 16 September, resolved on launching the process of dissolution, which will table a motion of dissolution at the General Meeting. Meanwhile, as a consensus built upon mutual trust and solidarity, only WONG Nai-yuen the Chair, TANG Kin-wa the Vice-chair and CHUNG Chung-fai the Treasurer shall remain to enforce the remainder of the process; the rest of the ex-co members left office. On Friday evening, affiliates were notified of an Extraordinary General Meeting to take place on 3 October to discuss and resolve the dissolution. The monthly donations and the enquiry hotline for labour laws cease operation immediately, while no further case of labour disputes will be received for the affiliates. HKCTU is discussing with the affiliates regarding the already received cases in progress, so as to minimise the inconvenience.

Right to strike and freedom of association jeopardised with state media criticism as collusion with foreign forces

HKCTU was claimed by Wenweipo as colliding with foreign powers and making exchanges with International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), a “political organisation in the clothing of international union”. However ITUC is actually the largest global trade union confederation and represents 332 trade union organisations from 163 countries and regions.

“These are common connections between unions in the international civil society, so in no way do we agree to such political discreditation as so-called a foreign agent,” said Wong, “labour movements have always resorted to international solidarity, so it is reasonable and natural for HKCTU to cooperate and contact unions in different regions. Over the last 30 years the government never claimed this to be unlawful. It is a threat to the right of workers to join a union when engagement with international unions is deemed as collusion with foreign forces.” He also questioned, “We can’t understand the accusation of incitement to strike, set up new unions etc. It is a fundamental right under the protection of the Basic Law to organise a trade union and launch a strike. Why do they suddenly become a crime? Is it the case that trade unions not on the side of the establishment are carrying an original sin?”

Gratitude to LEE Cheuk-yan and Carol NG and Apologies to affiliates and people of Hong Kong

Wong acknowledged LEE Cheuk-yan the General Secretary and Carol NG the former chair on behalf of HKCTU for their enormous contribution to the trade union and the movement. He said, “Although they are not present, I’m sure their thoughts are still with us.” He also thanked the affiliates, ex-co members, staff, volunteers and the public for all the engagements and support. He also apologised to the affiliates and the public, “Sorry, HKCTU can’t stand any longer.”

“A movement may encounter setbacks and low drives, but we’re always faithful that solidarity is the power,” said Wong, “the 31 years of history of HKCTU witnessed the rise and fall of Hong Kong society. It came to existence because of a great movement and came to an end also because of a great movement. Nevertheless, as long as there are workers, as long as the social conflicts remain severe, the labour movement shall certainly develop onwards. HKCTU’s values and spirits of solidarity are not vanishing; instead time will prove that we shall overcome all the challenges in the era. We hope HKCTU’s previous efforts serve as historical resources that cultivate the labour movement in the future. We wish for more solid and more vivid fruits from the labour movement in Hong Kong in the near future. The flowers fallen are not the flowers heartless; as they become soil in spring, they nourish more flowers.”

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