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