Press Release and Statement (HK)

 

 

The Voice of the People, The Need for Change

 

On September 4th, a record-breaking 2.2 million citizens casted their votes to express their discontent with the CY Leung government, and declared their determination to dismantle the current political deadlock.  This is an inescapable obligation for every politician to answer to this call of the times.

 

The turnout rate of this year’s Legislative Council Election reached 58%, the highest since the Handover in 1997.  The results of the Election reflect a disgruntled public’s frustration with the governance of the CY Leung Government and the current state of the society.  The call for change is loud and clear.

 

The Labour Party will only be able to retain one seat in the Legislative Council in the next term.  In spite of the disappointment, the Labour Party humbly respect the decisions made by the people.  We have to admit that we lost because we have not done enough, and we will review and reflect on the results as soon as possible.

 

The Labour Party can clearly hear the call of the times.  We acknowledge that the political future of Hong Kong is the foremost issue put forward by the people of Hong Kong.  Nevertheless, it is also our firm belief to walk with the underprivileged and voice out for justice and we are determined to follow such convictions.

 

From now on, the Legislative Council will proceed into a new era.  Although we cannot predict the future of political development, we genuinely believe that the people of Hong Kong have already used their collective wisdom in choosing a path for change courageously.  The Labour Party, regardless of our positions and despite of all difficulties, will remain committed to meet with the challenges ahead and walk this path together with the people of Hong Kong.

Protest against 4 Chambers of Commerce Undermine Rights to Collective Bargaining of Chinese Workers

28

Oct 2015

Press Release

Protest against Four Chambers of Commerce Undermine Rights to Collective Bargaining

Condone 3.6 Billion Retirement Pension in Arrears by Hong Kong Enterprises

 

On October 28, along with other NGOs, the HKCTU protested against the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, The Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong Chinese General Chamber of Commerce at the United Center in Admiralty.  We protested against the Four Chambers of Commerce in condoning Hong Kong enterprises for the back pay of at least 3.6 billion RMB of retirement pension and weakening the “Guangdong Provincial Regulation on Collective Contracts for. Enterprises”.  We handed a handshake cutout cardboard to the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce, meaning the four Chambers of Commerce condone the violation of labour law in the Mainland, undermine the Collective Contract Regulation, and encourage labour conflicts.

Condone Members to Break the Law

According to a survey conducted by the HKCTU, over 60% of labour actions occurred in Hong Kong-owned factories were due to social security contribution in arrears, with the majority in retirement pension.   An estimated 3.6 billion RMB of pension was owned to the migrant workers by Hong Kong enterprises.  In addition, there are also many cases of collective labour actions instigated by severance pay and wages in arrears and other violations of mainland labor legislation due to plants relocation or closure. The HKCTU previously wrote to the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Chinese General Chamber of Commerce insisting on blacklisting these companies.  However,  such complaints from the trade union were largely ignored by the three leading Chambers of Commerce.  Enterprises involved in labour rights infringement includes members of the Chambers such as Unilever Group (Hong Kong Chinese General Chamber of Commerce members), ARTS OPTICAL (Federation of Hong Kong Industries members), Sunway Plastic Toys (CMA members), as well as Hong Kong listed companies such as Stella holding, Pegasus International, Chow Tai Fook's suppliers, etc. (see the appendix of HKCTU’s “Investigative Report on Labour Rights in Hong Kong Enterprises in China 2014-2015”http://en.hkctu.org.hk/assets/publications/20150831_Labour_Rights_Violation_Report_Eng.pdf )

Undermines The Collective Bargaining Ordinance, Intensifies Labour Disputes

Guangdong provincial government first promoted Collective Bargaining Ordinance with the aim to resolve labour disputes and reduce the incidence of strikes by means of collective bargaining. However, Hong Kong businesses, mainly led by the Chamber of Commerce, expended their political relations to ultimately forced the binding regulations to be removed from Collective Bargaining Ordinance.  These actions include lobbying the Vice President of the Standing Committee of the Provincial People's Congress, President of the Federation of Trade Unions of Guangdong Province, Huang Yebin, to postpone the passing of the legislation.  Moreover, many board members from the Chambers were also members of NPC and CPPCC in various levels (such as Martin Liao, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, is a NPC member, Sze Iron, the Honorary President of Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong is a CPPCC members, Stantley Lau, Director of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries is a Standing Committee of the Sichuan Province CPPCC, etc.) who had direct impact on policy making.  Thus, all penalties were ultimately removed from the Ordinance if companies refuse to negotiate with the workers.  In the absence of any costs of premise, it is difficult to effectively force companies to negotiate difficult with the workers.

 

The HKCTU demands the Four Chambers of Commerce to fulfill their corporate social responsibilities:
1. To blacklist enterprises that are in serious violations of labor legislation and cancel their membership;
2. Respect the right to collective bargaining of Chinese workers and educate members to do so.

 

Further reading

“Investigative Report on Labour Rights in Hong Kong Enterprises in China 2014-2015”

HKCTU warns against eight working holiday traps

26

Oct 2015

source: Ejinsight (http://www.ejinsight.com/20151026-hkctu-warns-against-eight-working-holiday-traps/)

Many young people are attracted to join working holiday schemes which allow them to travel overseas while getting paid for temporary work during their visit.

However, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) has warned that some of those schemes, especially those run by unauthorized parties, may end up in a bad experience for participants.

The HKCTU cited the case of a couple, Ar Wah and Mandy, who joined a working holiday trip to Australia last year.

Instead of enjoying the experience, the two encountered various forms of exploitation, including receiving no payment for their work, living in poor accommodation, and having their passports retained, Metro Daily reported on Monday.

Mon Siu-tak, program executive of HKCTU, said their experiences were not uncommon.

Those wanting to go on a working holiday trip should watch out for eight common traps, Mon said. These are illegal employment, false self-employment, unpaid probationary period, underemployment, underpayment, delayed payments, overcharging of agency fees, and payment of wages by installment.

Ar Tai, who has visited Australia under a working holiday program, said job seekers should deal only with licensed agencies and those with good reputation.

It is better to transact with people who speak English, Ar Tai said, adding that based on his experience, Chinese-speaking recruiters are often only after illegal workers.

He also said having a local driving license is helpful to overcome difficulties in transportation, and allows one to spend more time at a place to meet with the locals and explore other job opportunities.

HKCTU said the group is cooperating with the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU) and the National Union of Workers (NUW) on working holidays.

Last month the Hong Kong union signed an agreement with the NUW on providing assistance to Hong Kong youngsters during their working holidays in Australia.

Hong Kong visitors could also seek assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman and other relevant employees’ unions.

Summary of HKCTU seminar on “Linking the Past and the Future of Independent Labour Movement”

19

Sep 2015

Mung Siu Tat

 

Since the founding of the HKCTU over 25 years ago, we braved out countless adversities and hardships along with the workers of Hong Kong to uphold our rights and dignity. Workers were able to find ownership in the labour movement as the establishment of the HKCTU ended the dominance of the Pro-Communist and Pro-Kuomintang unions.  For 25 years, numerous like-minded people fought and created a new era of trade union movement.  On 19th September, HKCTU commemorated her 25th anniversary with a series of functions, while a dinner gala was held at night, more than 100 people participated in the "Linking the Past and the Future of Independent Labor Movement ── Experiences in mainland China, Hong Kon,g and Taiwan" seminar during the day, and exchange their views and experiences.

 

Industrial Migration, Union Born at a Wrong Time?

In the first part of the seminar, sister Cheung Laiha and Brother Lee Cheuk Yan reviewed the roles of the Christian Industrial Committee (CIC), the predecessor of the HKCTU, in industrial actions and labour dispute interventions during the Seventies and Eighties.  Brother Lee noted that when he joined the CIC after his graduation from university, it coincided with a wave of industrial migration to Mainland China.  Many workers' salaries and severance pay were left unpaid due to factory closures.  Since the Pro-Communist unions had become more low-key and emphasis on "stability and prosperity" after the 1967 Riot, the CIC took the opportunity to actively involve in labour disputes and grievances.  He went on to reveal that many colleagues from the CIC gave him the nickname “Bloody Yan”, because whenever he could “smell blood" (wages in arrears), he would be the first to arrive at the scene.  But Brother Lee also lamented the Clothing Union was born at the wrong time as the garment industry was in decline, and many workers he helped to organize were subsequently scattered in different industries.

 

The General Director of the Retail, Commerce, and Clothing Industries General Union, Sister Cheung Laiha, was once an unpaid garment industry worker who seek help from the CIC and she share the experience of her transformation from an ordinary worker to become union leader.  Sister Cheung stressed that the CIC put much emphasis on shared responsibilities among workers and how it gradually cultivated autonomy awareness through carrying out subtle union duties.  Such were the seeds for the future development of independent unionism.

 

Unique Characteristics in Labour Organizations Across the Strait

 

The Hong Kong speakers were then followed by guest speakers from Mainland and Taiwan.  The coordinator of a labour NGO namely “Labour Education and Service Network”, Brother Chu Kong Wai, and Researcher from the “Kaohsiung Federation of Labor Unions”, Brother Tsai Chih Chieh, shared their organizational differences and similarities. Brother Chu stated that labour awareness in the Pearl Delta Region was significantly enhanced in recent years due to frequent labour actions instigated by factory closures.  Meanwhile, workers began to elect their bargaining representatives and fight for their legal rights in a more organizing fashion.   However, further study will be needed to examine whether the momentum of these labour actions in China is able to accumulate experience and transform into a sustainable organizational force like what it was in Hong Kong during the Seventies and Eighties.

 

As for the Taiwanese experience, Brother Tsai reported that since occupational trade unions were prohibited in Taiwan in early years, early labour movement was mainly restricted to an enterprise based model.  It was not easy for these trade unions to breakthrough the enterprise boundaries and expanded the labour movement in a broader spectrum.  Thus, a relatively well-established trade unions federation like the HKCTU has yet to be found in Taiwan.  Likewise, although labour actions are quite frequent in Mainland China nowadays, lack of connections between these actions poses similar challenges in breaking through the enterprise boundaries.  However, the HKCTU took a quite different path in her early development.  Since most of the HKCTU early affiliates were occupational based, they generally possess a broader perspective in labour and social movement, but in turn, lack the organizational and bargaining power in workplaces.  As labour organizational experiences vary from places to places across the strait, it is important that we should learn from each other experiences to further strengthen independent unionism.

 

Changes Will Come Along Only When Adhering to Principles

 

On this special occasion, 30 representatives from the International Union of Food Workers (IUF) – Asia Pacific Region, LO from Sweden and Lvis from Sweden etc. The IUF and HKCTU have deep relation tracing back to 1982 when the IUF and CIC worked together in the production of teaching materials and training courses to teach workers how to establish democratic and independent trade unions in Hong Kong. The Union Education Centre was subsequently established two years later. The Union Education Centre was the first independent trade union co-ordination centre in Hong Kong and her founding 14 affiliates were the prototype of the HKCTU. In his address, Brother Ron Oswald, General Secretary of the IUF, stated that he was honored that the IUF was the first international union to support the Hong Kong independent labour movement. If we did not adhere to our principles back then, we will not have the HKCTU today. In fact, the IUF also support independent labour movements in South Africa, Myanmar, and Egypt. The IUF always adhere to the principles of independent labour movement, and changes will only come along after years of persistence. Thus, despite under the tight control of the Chinese Communist Party, ACFTU is the only recognized trade union in Mainland China, the IUF will adhere to the same principles and support the mainland workers' freedom and rights to association; in believing that workers in Mainland will organize their independent trade unions one day.

Press Release on Labour Day Declaration on Ending Violence against Labour Activists & Protest Action

05

May 2015

Global support for labour activists in China:

HKCTU protested at Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, to submit a global Labour Day petition against violence

 

Violence against labour organizations and workers who fight for their rights has been intensifying in China. Thus, the HKCTU launched a global petition, to condemn violence (please see the Statement below). A total of 2,241 signatures, from143 local and international unions / labour NGOs (including IUF and PSI) and 2,098 individuals have been collected between 23 April and 4 May. ( Please see the appendix of a list of signatories).

 

Condemning violence against labour activists

Nearly 30 representatives from trade unions and Hong Kong labour organizations, together with the HKCTU staged a protest at the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR (hereafter: Liaison Office), on 5 May 2015. They described and condemned the suppression of labour organizations and violent assaults against their staff members. The representatives presented a jointed petition, calling the Chinese Government to immediately stop violence against labour organizations in China. They also shouted slogans, such as “protect workers’ rights, zero tolerance for violence suppression!”, “workers have rights to defend themselves, fight against suppression!” on their way to the Liaison Office. The Chief Executive of HKCTU Mung Siu Tat stated that no matter how harsh the suppression from the Chinese Government would be, the HKCTU would continue to work with other local and international labour organizations, to support Chinese labour organizations. He urged the Chinese Government to immediately halt its violence and pledged that the HKCTU would organize further actions to tackle this issue. The representatives attempted to pass their petition to the Liaison Office but as usual, the Liaison Office refused to take in any petition. The protesters dispersed peacefully after they had posted the petition at the gate of the Liaison Office.  

Labour Day Declaration on Ending Violence against Labour Activists

Condemning violence against labour movement & calling for an immediate stop to violent assaults

 

Since 2012, the HKCTU has made several calls, demanding a halt to political oppression against labour organizations in China. In recent years, whilst Chinese workers’ awareness is growing and workers are getting more vocal to resist labour violations, the political space is also tightening. The oppression has been escalating, from forcing labour organizations to move out from their offices, to physical assaults against their staff members. On 31 December 2014, the HKCTU and Globalization Monitor jointly launched a global petition campaign, to address the violent attack on Zeng Feiyang, the head of Panyu Migrant Workers Documentation Center, as well as many other similar cases. Until April 2015, staff members of Chinese labour organizations have been living under consistent threats of violent assaults, some have been detained and seriously assaulted by police.

 

Abuse of police power Groundless crackdown on workers' rights-defending actions

On 2 April 2015, Peng Jiayong, Liu Shaoming, Deng Xiaoming who were volunteers of Haige Workers’ Services Centre, were forcibly abducted to Yakou Police Station in Zhongshan City. The three volunteers have been assisting workers to negotiate with the Japanese-invested Tsuiheng Package Plant in Zhongshan City, demanding workers’ long missing social insurance premiums and redressing other violations. Peng Jiayong was continuously attacked by the police officers throughout the detention time, resulting in many injuries in his loin, ribs and back of the head, right leg and other parts of his body. Peng was taken to Panyu Shiqiao Hospital for treatment.

 

On 19 April 2015, Meng Han, a staff member of Panyu Migrant Worker Documentation Center was forcibly taken away by nearly 100 police officers while he was assisting workers at Panyu Lide Shoes Industry Company Limited, to re-elect their representatives in a hall. Workers’ representatives were also attacked and detained. After a large number of workers gathered in front of the police station, Meng and workers’ representatives were finally released.

 

In the past few years, labour organizations have been forced to move out from their offices, their registrations were voided, their directors were being arbitrarily detained. We continuously receive news about strikers facing violent crackdown and detention for standing up for their rights. As workers are getting more aware of their rights, the local stabilizing force appears to get out of control. The law enforcement agency openly attacks staff of labour organizations, police assaults striking workers’ representatives and in some areas, they are collaborating with local thugs to suppress workers’ collective actions. The frequency and scale of these attacks are getting outrageously high. Inside China, the government has been emphasising “rule of law” and internationally, it has been marketing itself as a civilized and peaceful rise of China. However, the local governments are allowed to act as hooligans and law enforcement agency openly violates laws, physically attacks workers and threatens workers’ organizations. Obviously China talks the talk but it doesn't walk the walk.

 

The Origin of Labour Day is to memorise the workers in Chicago who were killed in a government-led violent crackdown. The spirit of May Day is to fight against political and capital powers which suppress workers’ rights with violence. Thus, the HKCTU is calling you, who cares about labour rights from all over the world:

 

1.    To condemn the abuse of police power in China, to demand an immediate stop to violence and oppression against labour organizations and workers’ representatives;

 

2.    To call on the Chinese Government to investigate the cases of violent assaults, which involve officials and civil servants, to protect civil rights as its fundamental obligations;

 

3.   To request the Chinese government to ratify and to fulfill the requirements of No. 87 of the International Labour Convention, to protect the workers and citizens that can enjoy inviolability of freedom of association and the right to organize

 

Initiated by:

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions

A list of online siganatures to the declaration from organizations and individuals can be downloaded from the link below

 

Labour organizations’ joint statement on the political reform proposal

23

Apr 2015

“Pocket it first” most likely means “Pocket it forever”

False universal suffrage & real screening to sift out labour rights and livelihood demands

Labour organizations’ joint statement on the political reform proposal

 

23 April 2015

 

The Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (hereafter: HK government) unveiled its final version of political reform proposal yesterday, sticking to the tight framework, known as “831 decision”, laid down by the National People's Congress (NPC) on 31 August 2014. The decision only allows the public vote on candidates, who have been pre-selected by a 1200-member pro-Beijing nominating committee. We, a group of labour organizations, are extremely dissatisfied by this proposal and would like to express our strongest objection to the HK government.

Dream of universal suffrage broken

The proposal requires the candidates to win at least a half of committee votes to go forward to a final, public vote and limits the number of candidates to 3. It means the nominating committee, led by the business sector, would have the ultimate power in picking candidates. In other words, demands to improve labour conditions would end in vain. The performance of C.Y. Leung, the current Chief Executive is a vivid example of how a candidate would kowtow to the business sector. He had made numerous promises to improve labour conditions while running for office, but once elected, he failed to bring forward any reform on housing, labour, education and many other livelihood issues. To make it worse, he has sided with the business and attempted to relax the control and scale of labour importation, which would cause local workers’ jobs and threaten their working conditions.

Leung clearly demonstrates that no matter how rosy a picture a candidate paints, as long as her/his candidacy is controlled by a small committee of privileged people, s/he would have to pay back. However, the whole Hong Kong society is paying the price for such deals and as a result, political, economic, social and livelihood reforms are delayed and obstructed.

 

Staying where we are is better than stepping into a trap

We believe, it is crucial for the general public to realize the scourge of false universal suffrage. Leung, elected by 689 committee members might not dare to forcibly push natioanl education forward, but if he would have been a new Chief Executive with 689,000 votes, he might claim to be “authorized by the Hong Kong people” and push for the legislation of Article 23, national education, large scale of labour importation and etc.

The government and the pro-Beijing camp are trying all means to pass this proposal at the Legislative Council (Legco), claiming that gradual improvement would be possible. Yet, both Chinese and HK governments have repeatedly emphasized that getting at least half of the votes from the nominating committee is fulfilling the constitutional obligation and Carrie Lam, Chief Secretary of the HK government also keeps saying it is a “very reasonable” practice. All these hint that the idea of  “pocket it first” for gradual improvement, is either a naïve thinking or a trick to lure us. In reality, “pocket it first” would only lead to “pocket it forever”.

Realizing this, we firmly refuse an electoral system which is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and privileged groups. We call on all lawmakers at the Legco, to prioritize genuine universal suffrage and to put the interests of working class and Hong Kong first, to veto this proposal. They should demand the NPC to withdraw its “831 decision” and the HK government to re-initiate the “5-Step Process of Constitutional Development”, to finally realize universal suffrage for both Legco and Chief Executive.

 

Thus, we demand:

All Legco members to veto the HK government’s political reform proposal;

The NPC to withdraw its “831 decision”;

The HK government to re-initiate the “5-Step Process of Constitutional Development”, to realize universal suffrage for Chief executive and Legco.

 

Signed by:

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions

Labour Party, Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre

Hong Kong Women Workers' Association

Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union 

Hong Kong Catholic Commission For Labour Affairs

Industrial Relations Institute, Workers' Rights' Association

 

 

  

 

The five Chinese feminists were released on bail on April 13

14

Apr 2015

Breaking News: The Five Chinese Feminists are Released!
Wei Tingting, Wang Man, Zheng Churan, Li Tingting and Wu Rongrong confirmed released on bail.

There have been waves of actions to call for release of the five since early March, these joint actions illustrated the spirit and attitude that the people are not fear to suppression, and these actions played a key role in this release. We must keep on concerning on the situation of feminist activists and other activists in China.

And it is urgent for us to continue urging the Chinese authority to drop all charges imposed on the five.

Before hearing this news, Women's groups, Human Rights groups and HKCTU did a demonstration on Sunday April 12 to call for release of all of them:

In response to An Urgent Calling for Global Action: Protest for Wu Rongrong, Wei Tingting, Li Tingting, Wang Man and Zheng Churan, the five Detained Chinese Feminists, we are going to launch a protest at the Mongkok pedestrian zone to demand the immediate release of the Chinese feminists.

Date: 12 April (Sunday)

Time: 13:00 - 15:00

Venue : Mongkok Pedestrain Zone

CTMA Center, No.1, Sai Yeung Choi Street South

Initiating organizations in Hong Kong (keep updating...)

Action Q

Amnesty International Hong Kong

Women's Affair Committee of Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions

The Association for the Advancement of Feminism (AAF)

Women Coalition of HKSAR

Rainbow Action

Network for Women in Politics

spirit8964@ssociation

Reclaiming Social Work

 

 

 

Only legalisation of standard working hours protects workers, not written contracts

18

Mar 2015

 

After its meeting today, the Standard Working Hours Committee (hereafter: SWHC) told the media that it would recommend the legislation to provide for stipulation of hours of work, mealtime, rest time in employment contracts. The HKCTU is disappointed by such a recommendation, considering it as a cheap ploy to avoid regulating working hours through legislation. Under the current imbalanced power structure between employees and employers, employees have little to bargain and contract-stated working hours cannot help them resolve the problems of long working hours.

 

Working hours in contracts as “toothless tiger”

The HKCTU emphasizes that legislation of standard working hours is the only way to encounter the problems of long working hours. However, the SWHC puts the focus on stipulation of contracts, which is entirely missing the target. Under the current imbalanced setting of labour relations, employees have very little say and often cannot refuse when being asked to work long hours and overtime without pay. If the legislation would only require the stipulation of working hours in contracts, employers would simply write 12 or even 14 hours per day into the contracts and make workers work long hours without overtime premiums.

 

Such an unfair contract leaves an employee little room to resist. According to the current labour legislation, when an employee disagrees with changes made by an employer, it would only be treated as a dismissal. To keep her/his job, an employee could only accept the new terms and conditions. In other words, an employer can always make changes to extend the working hours.

 

720,000 workers with long hours written in contracts

In reality, workers in many sectors, such as catering, security services and transportation, have been working long hours. Contracts simply put 12 hours per day or longer as terms and conditions. The government’s Report of the Policy Study on Standard Working Hours has listed six industries, affecting over 720,000 workers, which often have a 54-hour working week. In their contracts, long working hours is the norm. It means if the government would follow SWHC’s recommendation, these workers would continue to suffer from long working hours.

 

Problem unresolved by sidestep

The HKCTU repeatedly advocates for the legislation of standard working hours, seeing it as the only way to improve the situation. The SWHC’s recommendation attempts to sidestep such a legislation, is a betrayal to workers. In 2006, the Hong Kong Government also tried to avoid the legislation of minimum wages, by replacing it with the Wage Protection Movement, a campaign which failed and wasted workers’ time. Now, the SWHC’s recommendation is likely to have the same fate.

 

The SWHC accuses the legislation of standard working hours as a move of “generalization”, which is indeed misleading. Legislation of standard working hours does not mean losing flexibility, some sectors are entitled to apply for exemptions or make special arrangements,  as examples shown in many other countries. Some industries are given longer reference period, e.g. in the UK, 17 weeks are given as reference period, under the condition that the average weekly hours are not exceeding the standard working hours. The SWHC is fully aware of these arrangements and yet, it intentionally portrays the standard working hours as an inflexible single standard to the public, which is misleading and shameless.

 

Standard working hours is not a scourge

The ILO research has confirmed that standard working hours would not have any negative impact on economy and employment. Many other researches even prove that regulation on working hours could raise the productivity and cut costs. The HKCTU has been updating the SWHC with these findings and organized experts from ILO to share its expertise with the chairman of SWHC, Dr Edward Leong. However, the SWHC turns a blind eye to these facts and continues to suggest that legislation of standard working hours could hurt economy and employment, which the HKCTU finds deeply regrettable.

 

Regarding the standard working hours, the HKCTU’s position is:

  • to oppose the measure of legislation to provide for the stipulation of hours of work and rest time in employment contracts. Such a legislation simply cannot help hundreds of thousands of workers who suffer from long working hours
  • to demand the SWHC to openly support the legislation of standard working hours
  • to push for immediate public consultation on various proposals
More than half of female employees in the service industry have been sexually harassed

08

Mar 2015

HKCTU’s Survey: more than half of female employees in the service industry have been sexually harassed, lack of prevention and action from employers

 

The Women Affairs Committee of the HKCTU released a report on 8 March, the International Women’s Day, stating that nearly 60% of female employees in the service sector had been sexually harassed at work. It happened most frequently in three industries, namely property management, airlines and retailing. Nearly 70% of interviewees said that their workplaces have no (32%) or are not aware of (36%) any follow up mechanisms of sexual harassment complaints. As a result, only 15% of the victims reported their cases to the employers. The HKCTU hopes that this report could bring the government and employers to take the problems of sexual harassment more seriously, by strengthening education programmes and prevention measures.

[Demonstration of self defense skills]

 

In December 2014, the Legislative Council passed the revision of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, which enables employees in the service industry to file a sex harassment complaint against a customer. Between January and early March 2015, the Women Affairs Committee conducted a survey and 284 valid questionnaires were collected (68% from females and 32% from males). Among them, 70% participants work with customers on a regular basis. The survey aims to investigate the presence of sexual harassment at workplaces and the employers’ awareness of their responsibility to prevent it.

Sexual harassment is common at workplaces

Nearly 60% (57%) participants reported workplace sexual harassment, with more female victims (59%) than male victims (47%). Among the various types of sexual harassment, the most common harassment from customers is “non-verbal harassment (e.g. sexually suggestive staring)”, and “verbal harassment (e.g. sexual jokes)” and “physical harassment” from colleagues.

[solidarity message from FADWU and PLU and sharing of the demand to stop abuses of migrant domestic workers in HK]

 

Employers are responsible for victims’ passive responses

Among the victims of sexual harassment, only 15% complained to their employers and lower than 10% reported to Equal Opportunities Commission, Police or took legal actions. Instead, victims often only told their colleagues, families and friends. 25% of victims took no actions. For those who have seen or known of sexual harassment at workplaces, only 5% would be willing to become witnesses. The main reason of their passiveness: they believe that taking action would not help.

Yu Mei-wan, chairwoman of the Women Affairs Committee points out that the survey has reflected that employers have not done enough to prevent sexual harassment at workplaces, which leave employees of the service sector very helpless after being sexually harassed, as complaining or help-seeking is made difficult. Such an irresponsibility has even encouraged sexual harassers to some extent.

Building a gender-friendly workplace
The Women Affairs Committee hopes the revised legislation to expand its coverage for workers in the service sector, the Equal Opportunities Commission to strengthen its educational programmes and the employers to take up this important responsibility. More publicity of the legislation revision and their rights should be made available to employees in the service industry. Furthermore, it is necessary to establish a complaints mechanism and to inform the customers of the zero-tolerance to sexual harassment policy. 

[Group singing for celebration of Women's Day]

The full report pdf file could be download from the link below

 

Statement on the guilty verdict of Erwiana’s employer

13

Feb 2015

A year wasted: the Hong Kong Government failed to take action to amend discriminatory policies against migrant domestic workers

 

Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions

 

Justice has been upheld in the abuse case of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, an Indonesian domestic worker whose suffering triggered global outrage. The court has ruled that her former employer, Law Wan-tung, guilty of 18 charges, including grievous bodily harm, criminal intimidation and failure to pay wages. We hail this ruling and believe that justice is upheld. However, after a whole year, the Hong Kong Government has done very little to protect its migrant domestic workers. The secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung comments that migrant domestic workers' personal safety is protected by law. His statement completely ignores the fact that Erwiana’s case was indirectly caused by the Hong Kong policies, a system traps the domestic workers in a cycle of abuse and exploitation. If no reform is made to change these discriminatory policies, migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong would continue to stay in an exploitative situation. We believe, working in Hong Kong together, migrant domestic workers should be treated equally. The Hong Kong Government should also learn from this lesson, to immediately abolish the discriminatory policies against them. Hong Kong does not need the reputation of “city of modern slavery”.

 

Discriminatory immigration policies obscuring migrant domestic workers to seek help

Judge Amanda Woodcock pointed out that Erwiana was not given any rest day, locked up, totally isolated to reach out for help, was a major cause of this case. In reality, many migrant domestic workers encounter such a treatment. The Hong Kong immigration policy requires the migrant domestic workers to live with their employers, which put them under 24-hour surveillance. Live-in domestic workers are forced to work long hours and sometimes, they would have to sacrifice their only rest day of the week. It also prevents them from building local social network and leaves them isolated when help is needed. The “two-week rule” requires a domestic worker to leave Hong Kong in two weeks when her employment contract is terminated, unless a new employer is found. Such a rule causes domestic workers to be afraid of leaving their job even when they are subject to abuse. Both “live-in rule” and “two-week rule” apply only to migrant domestic workers, a blunt discrimination against migrants. In recent years, the Immigration Department has selectively refused to grant employment visas to migrant domestic workers who had not completed a two-year contract. Such a practice would only keep them from reporting abuses.

 

Toothless Labour Department’s failure to enforce law

The Labour Department claims to be only responsible for education and publicity, and deliberately avoid its role as an official department, namely law enforcement and regulation. Migrant domestic workers bear the identities of workers and migrants, both are vulnerable roles which cannot proactively fight for their rights in the power relations with their employers and employment agencies. This is the general situation, not an individual case. The Labour Department seldom actively investigates or prosecutes the employers and agencies for their unlawful acts. Thus, employers and agencies make it a common practice to cancel their migrant domestic workers’ holidays and confiscate their identity documents. When Erwiana’s abuse first came under the spotlight, Matthew Cheung openly pledged to regulate unscrupulous agencies and protect migrant workers’ rights. Yet, the so-called reform has never surfaced. A whole year has passed and the Hong Kong Government has not delivered any concrete measures to improve migrant domestic workers’ situation. It seemingly has not learnt from Erwiana’s case. Instead, it has created more restrictions on migrant domestic workers, for example, at the legislative consultation of standard working hours, it has attempted to exclude the migrant domestic workers.

 

Again, we welcome the guilty verdict and are happy that justice is upheld for Erwiana. It is also a victory of all migrant domestic workers. It tells us that if we speak out, despite all the hardship, we migrant domestic workers still have a chance to justice. Yet, such an individual verdict does not improve the migrant domestic workers’ situation as a whole. The discriminatory policies are the root of the problem and if no reform is made, we will only see more victims. Once again, we demand the Hong Kong Government to immediately abolish the discriminatory policies against the migrant domestic workers, to truly bring justice to all domestic workers in Hong Kong.

 

 

In Solidarity with the Umbrella Movement Arrestees

23

Jan 2015

In Solidarity with the Umbrella Movement Arrestees

HKCTU Statement on 23-1-2015

 

Just over a month after the umbrella campaign, the Government has already launched a large-scale political liquidation.  32 participants of the movement were arrested by appointment, including the HKCTU General Secretary, Lee Cheuk Yan and Chief Executive, Mung Siu Tat.  Both were charged with participating, organizing or inciting illegal assembly.  Lee reported back to the police on Jan 17, while Mung would report to the police on Jan 22.

In solidarity with Mung, more than 20 people showed their support on the day when Mung reported to the police station, including Mung’s brother and Lee Cheuk Yan.  Before going into the police station, Mung accentuated he neither felt lonely nor anxious from the support he got.  However, he apologized for making her four-years old daughter worried as she would afraid that he would be dealt with violently by the police after seeing his arrest on the television news.

Mung would go on to stress that, “We do not want our children to be forced to live in a society with no dignity and freedom when they grow up.  We do not want them to endure long working hours and become slaves to work when they grow up; we do not want our children sacrificing their freedom and work throughout their whole lives just for an apartment to live when they grow up.  And we all know that until the day we have universal suffrage, we will have to continue to live under the shadow of real estate hegemony, and government-corporation collusion.”

Mung was detained for more than one hour and was released after he refused to release on bail.  The police suspected Mung with two charges—1. attending unauthorized assembly and 2. organizing and inciting unauthorized assembly.  During which, the police showed Mung two video clips as evidence allegations.  Mung would later revealed, “in one video clip, the police recorded my speech to appeal demonstrators to abide by peaceful and non-violence principles when confronting the tear gas and pepper spray used by the police.  It just shows that the evidence which was used to against me, in fact underscores the police prosecution is to suppress peaceful demonstrations.”

The HKCTU will mobilize her members to attend future solidarity actions to show that we will never back down in face of prosecution, and will continue to fight for universal suffrage.

HK Union leader Lee Cheuk Yan released after police questioning

17

Jan 2015

Calling HK citizens for joining forces to resist repression on democratic movement

Lee Cheuk-yan, General Secretary of the HKCTU turned himself in the Wan Chai police on 17 January2015 as the police launched “arrests by appointment”, targeting leading protesters of the Movement. About 50 people from HKCTU, Labour Party and other supporters came to show support to Lee Cheuk Yan today.

Lee was accused of inciting, convening and participating in unauthorized assemblies. During the process, the police showed him 3 video clips in the umbrella movement and described an incident in which Lee was there but Lee did not make any comments on it. Lee refused to be bound by bail and he was released after 2 hour questioning at the police station. The police claimed that they would “reserve the right to prosecute”, despite the immediate release of Lee.

Another union leader Mung siu-tat, Chief Executive of HKCTU will report to the Police at 11am on 22 January 2014. HKCTU will keep mobilizing support actions to all the protesters of umbrella movement to resist the political reprisal.

Comments of HKCTU

Lee made a speech outside the police station that the fight for democracy by independent labour movement will not back down under the repression from Central Government and Chun-yin Leung Administration. On the other hand, we will get stronger to fight until we win. Lee appealed to all citizens in HK to be united for resisting the authoritarian state.

Solidarity support action from IUF

Hidayat Greenfield, Asia/Pacific Regional Secretary of IUF specially came to HK to show solidarity support to HKCTU. He condemned the HKSAR government in openly violating the international human rights standard and it is a shame on the government of making these political persecutions on union leaders and other peaceful protesters. Greenfield warned the HKSAR government that IUF would mobilize more international support to the arrested labour activists.

Police charged HKCTU leader Alex Kwok on Dec 22 for organizing illegal assembly as a revenge

22

Dec 2014

Police charged HKCTU leader Alex Kwok on Dec 22 for organizing illegal assembly as a revenge on Umbrella movement

Alex KWOK Siu-kit , who is the vice chairperson of HKCTU was arrested by the police in the morning of Dec 22, 2014 and was accused of organizing and taking part in illegal assembly. HKCTU and Labour Party went to protest at the Central District Police Station. We condemned the authority to make revenge on pro-democracy protesters in the umbrella movement. Alex was released at 4pm on the same day, he still vowed to keep fighting for democracy.
 
He acted as a marshal team leader during the Occupy campaign. He had previously been arrested for fighting in a public place, when he tried to subdue two men who threw pig intestines at pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai, at the Admiralty Occupy site. Now the police made two more criminal charged against Alex.
 

More than 20 people from HKCTU and Labour Party protest this revenge by the government on the protesters.  Mr. Mung Siu-tat, who is the chief executive of HKCTU demanded an immediate release of Alex Kwok and to stop making revenge of protesters of umbrella movement. Cyd Ho from Labour Party criticized that the HK police force was used as a tool of political suppression, which is no difference from police in mainland China. Cyd hoped that the public can be aware of the dark side of police.

 
Alex walked out from the police station at 4pm and then he urged HK people to keep fearless fighting for true democracy. Lee Cheuk-yan, general secretary of HKCTU and chairperson of Labour Party questioned whether police will claim such 'white terror as normal' and he said that the protest today was not just for Alex but for the justice of whole civil society in Hong Kong.
 

 

 

Democracy and labour rights blocked! Who can clear it up?

15

Dec 2014

Mung Siu-tat, Chief Executive of Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions

 

I took part in the civil disobedience action to protect the Occupied Zone on 11 December 2014 and was arrested in Harcourt Road. The police escorted me to Kwai Chung Police Station and my charges are unlawful assembly and obstructing the work of police. I am now on bail on my own recognizance and will have to report to the police station in early January.

 

Some might say, yesterday’s action was to complete the last step of civil disobedience, namely, to bear legal responsibility and the consequences of our resistance, to uphold the rule of law. Sorry! That is not how I see it. I must clarify that I went out yesterday, not for the above-mentioned purpose. When rich people could make use of injunctions to eliminate the voices of the powerless, when China’s National People’s Congress could override the courts and make arbitrary interpretation of the Basic Law, I cannot convince myself that bearing legal responsibility of these unjust laws (including Public Order Ordinance) can be beneficial to the justice. I simply do not see the rule of law in the midst of these laws.

 

Some memories kept coming back to me, when I was waiting for the police’s clearance at the Occupied Zone: in 2007, the barbenders blocked Ice House Street, where the old government headquarters used to be, to protest against Matthew Cheung, Secretary of Labour and Welfare Bureau, who turned a blind eye to workers’ hardship; in 2013, dock workers were ordered to leave the dock they had worked day and night as the employer applied an injunction from court, and etc. Many of my colleagues from the labour movement joined the last civil disobedience action in Admiralty, to carry out a belief that we unionists have been convinced and shared, from the barbenders’ strike, dockers’strike and many other labour movements. We believe that laws should not override democracy and labour rights which we are entitled to. In fact, we should be particularly alerted, when laws are becoming a tool of the rich and the government. Workers are not going to be limited by unjust laws. If we obey injunctions and Public Order Ordinance each time, we cannot organize any collective action to fight for our dignity.

 

After nearly two decades in the labour movement, probably a fourth of my whole life, I have witnessed too much exploitation at workplace and social injustice and I keep being inspired by workers’ resistance. As a trade unionist, my nature is to fight for those who have worked hard honestly, to help them and their families take back their dignity. Yet, I must admit to my conscience: it is impossible to keep my faith and carry out my work, without the protection from a democratic system.

 

If we would accept the political reform proposal from the National People’s Congress, the government would only have the interests of the business sector in mind, as they are the few but powerful nominators. It implies universal labour rights, such as standard working hours, right to collective bargaining, universal pension fund, would continue to be “blocked” by the functional constituencies. When the roads are occupied, bailiff and the police would conduct the clearance, yet, what happen if our democratic rights and labour rights are “blocked”? If we don’t join force, who can clear up this government?

 

In future, we might encounter more arrests and accusations, but we are not going to back off. The independent labour movement is determined to fight for genuine universal suffrage and we will take up the responsibility with other civil society organizations, to plant the seeds of democracy throughout our network. We are aiming at a bottom up social reform, with democratisation of labour relations and building up democratic unions as our strategies. We will fight till we win.

 

Mung sit-tat 

Dec 12 2014

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