Epilogue: Can dripping water penetrate stone?

Can dripping water penetrate stone? If you look into the course of history more closely, what seems impossible at the first glance can be proved achievable. We have set on a new path of independent union movement despite decades of dominion by the two pro-regime union factions. We have fought for the improvement of labour legislations under a Colonial Government that disregard public opinions. We have successfully legislated for minimum wage in a social environment that blindly worshipped free market. We have attained pay rise and a fairer share of economic growth from the hands of the repressive multi-national corporates. All these changes have been achieved by persistent efforts from countless people one-step at a time. Like dripping water that penetrate stone, as long as we are united and persistent, nothing is impossible. 

In face of rapid changes in the economic and social environment, we need to be more resolved and determined than ever to repel pressure. Ever since the founding of HKCTU, “autonomy and democracy” continues to be our conviction until today. We firmly believe that unions manipulated by political forces will only act upon orders from the top on undemocratic principles. On the contrary, independent union must act on democratic principles in order to defend workers rights and avoid decadence. Autonomy and democracy are two sides of the same coin and cannot be separated. In another word, the nature of independent labour movement is anti-autocratic and hence, will never capitulate under authoritarian rule.

On the other hand, established one year after the 1989 Beijing Democracy Movement, HKCTU was founded during the years of distress.  Having witnessed the bloodstained clampdown on democracy by a tyranny, makes us understand the preciousness of democracy. As a matter of fact, even prior to the founding of HKCTU, CIC and independent unions already participated in the movement to demand direct election in 1988. While after its establishment, HKCTU is ever presented in all major events of the democratic movement in Hong KOng, be it the fight for a democratic handover, the anti-article 23 and the Umbrella Movement. Through our uneasy experiences in the struggle for labour rights, HKCTU witnesses the collusion between corporate and Government, is now institutionalized and embedded in the system of “small-circle’ election. Workers rights will never attain real security until genuine democracy is achieve.

Democracy is not granted, neither nor labour rights are gift from heaven. This is a truth we have learned through our past struggles. Workers have left no choice but to organize, under the capitalist system. Only by organizing can we free from the fate of being treated as merely a production means by employers or can we reclaim our dignity as human beings. Regardless of occupations, drivers, construction workers, office workers, flight attendants or university professors share all one thing in common: we are all workers. We all face the imbalance of power in labour relations. If we want a better life, we must unite. Bitter or sweet, we share the same fate living under the same sky, no matter when and where. 

Previous Chapter: Fighting for dignity and rights:from economic democracy to political democracy

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