International Labour Organization Urged the Chinese Government to Stop Suppression on Freedom of Association

In December 2015, the Guangdong Provincial Government launched a mass crackdown against labour activists, detaining over 25 volunteers and employees of labour NGOs. Some of them were released after interrogation, but six of them, Meng Han, Zhu Xiaomei, Tang Huanxing, Zeng Feiyang, Peng Jiayong, and Deng Xiaoming have been charged with “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order”. Another detainee, He Xiaobo was accused of “embezzlement”. In September 2016, Zeng Feiyang was sentenced to 3 years in prison and suspended for 4 years; while Zhu Xiaomei and Tang Huanxing were sentenced to 1.5 years and suspended for 2 years.  Meng Han was later sentenced to 21 months in prison on November 2016.

HKCTU's press conference on introducing the details of the ILO Interim Report

In response, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) wrote to International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in January 2016, calling for them to file a formal complaint at the ILO’s Committee of Freedom of Association (CFA) demanding the Chinese Government to stop its repression on freedom of association, which the ITUC did in February, 2016. Subsequently, the CFA released an interim report in November, 2016 and stating their regrets that Zeng Feiyang, Zhu Xiaomei, Meng Han, Deng Xiaoming, Peng Jiayong and Tang Jian were detained for their involvement in the Lide Factory’s collective labour action between December 2014 and April 2015. Meanwhile, the CFA urged the Chinese Government to take the necessary steps to ensure that freedom of association is protected and labour activists are allowed to continue to provide advisory services to workers without hindrance. It demands the Chinese Government to conclude the pending investigations and provide court judgements of labour activists once they are completed. The report also reiterated that the CFA had repeatedly criticized the Chinese Government in previous cases of labour rights violations, but have yet to see any measure taken by the authorities to improve the situation.

HKCTU welcomes the judgements made by CFA and urges the Chinese Government to positively respond to CFA’s recommendations, namely to stop obstructing labour activists in safeguarding labour rights, respect workers’ freedom of association and right to collective bargaining.