Press release on HK labour groups protest against fake universal suffrage proposal

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. On April 23, 2015 some 30 representatives from various labour organizations staged a protest at the HK government headquarters, criticising this false universal suffrage as a guarantee of ever-growing government-business collusion. While the nominating committee is screening out candidates, it will also do the same to labour and livelihood concerns. The labour organizations emphasized that they would continue to fight for genuine universal suffrage and say no to “pocket it first” (referring to pass this false universal suffrage at the Legislative Council).

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (hereafter: HKCTU), Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre, Hong Kong Women Workers' Association, Industrial Relations Institute, Hong Kong Catholic Commission For Labour Affairs, Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, Labour Party and etc. participated in this protest. The representatives wore masks of tycoons Li Ka-shing, Lee Shau Kee and pro-business lawmaker Tommy Cheung and held bamboo sieves, symbolizing a business sector-run nominating committee would only sift out standard working hours, rights to collective bargaining, universal pension scheme and other labour rights. Then, only rotten policies which harm the public interests, such as those favouring the real estate hegemony and unchecked massive importation of foreign labour, would be left on the sieves.

Mung Siu-tat, executive director of the HKCTU spoke at the protest, “a worker who enjoys horse racing betting told me, this proposal is obviously an unfair game and it is tricking us into betting. That is cheating us workers". Yesterday I saw the some 40 pro-Beijing lawmakers holding “tick” banners to support the proposal, I could only say, they have sold their souls to Beijing. Yet, we are not going to follow them. We are holding our belief tightly and we are saying NO!”

Tam Chun Yin, vice-chairman of the Labour Party stated that Labour Party would mobilize the grassroots to resist the “pocket it first” idea and if the HK government is going to wage a war on public opinions, the labour organizations would fight till the end.

The protest ended with the representatives tearing up the  “2017: Make it happen!” booklets, issued by the HK government to promote this proposal. The labour organizations vowed to veto this rotten proposal. They also called on workers to take part in the Labour Day rally, as a way to express their demand of labour rights and their determination to resist the political reform proposal. Furthermore, the labour organizations reflected that they would conduct internal and community education, to mobilize the grassroots’ resistance against the false universal suffrage.