HKCTU's Representative Spoke at the United Nations, Calling International Attention to Labour Rights in China
On 9 November 2018, the United Nations conducted the third Universal Periodic Review (hereafter UNUPR) on China's human rights conditions (including Hong Kong and Macau Special Administration Regions). Before the official UNUPR, civil society bodies are invited to Geneva, to express their views on the human rights conditions in the country which is going to be reviewed, so that other member states could make recommendations to that country during the review process. HKCTU is one of the six civil society members, which was invited to speak at the UNUPR pre-session on 9 October 2018.
In the two previous UNUPR on China, only a few countries made recommendations to China's labour rights issues. Thus, HKCTU hoped to take this opportunity to get international community's attention on China's labour rights this time, especially the mass detention of labour activists in December 2015 and the recent labour conflicts at Jasic Technology show that Chinese workers' freedom of association is continuously under attack.
At the pre-session, Mr Cho Ming Lam, the HKCTU's representative pointed out that China's Trade Union Law is in itself a violation of freedom of association. Under the Trade Union Law, all unions in China must adhere to the leadership of the Communist Party and be governed by All-China Federation of Trade Unions (hereafter: ACFTU) (Article 4,9,10,11). In other words, the Trade Union Law makes it impossible and illegal for workers to organize independently and manage their own unions. Despite the International Labour Organization's Committee of Freedom of Association (ILO-CFA) considered this Trade Union Law to be contrary to the principles of the ILO regarding freedom of association and repeatedly urged China to amend it, the Chinese government turned a blind eye to it.
Mr Lam further quoted the example of the workers in Jasic Technology Co. Ltd. in Shenzhen City. Workers were dismissed and later arrested by the police, for wanting to form a trade union in accordance to the Trade Union Law. However, the ACFTU has failed to demand their reinstatement nor release, instead it worked with the employer and organize a yellow union. The ACFTU’s failure to uphold the workers’ freedom of association further substantiates the absurdity of the legal restrictions as well as the bureaucratic shortcomings in practice. At the meeting, HKCTU lobbied for the release of detained labour activists, including Fu Chang Guo.
Through the UNUPR Pre-session mechanism, HKCTU has effectively engaged with the international community to express its views and comments on China's labour conditions. Although the outcome of this mission is yet to be seen, HKCTU has succeeded in bringing the challenges and difficulties of the workers in the world’s factory, to the international community.