Updated: November 2022 

Existential challenges facing Hong Kong independent trade unions under the National Security Law 

Since the enactment of the National Security Law (NSL) in Hong Kong in July 2020, both the Hong Kong and Chinese governments have waged a systematic attack on trade unions in Hong Kong: 

  • At least eight trade unionists have been charged because of their involvement in peaceful social movements 
  • 100+ trade unions have been forced to disband or cease operation 
  • New restrictions on trade unions’ activities 
  • International lobbying has become impossible for local trade unions 

1. Politically motivated charges against trade unionists 

At least eight trade unionists have been charged under the NSL or seditious laws.  

  • LEE Cheuk-yan, The General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Union (HKCTU), has been sentenced to jail for 24 months.  
  • Five speech therapists from the General Union of Hong Kong speech Therapists were sentenced to 19 months in prison over three children’s books deemed to be “seditious”. 
  • Carol NG, the Chairperson of Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and Winnie YU, the chairperson of Hospital Authority Employees Alliance have been remanded for over an year before trial as they ran in a primary election. 

2. Over 100 trade unions dissolved due to mounting political pressure 

The largest sectoral trade union in the territory, The Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, and the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), the only democratic and independent trade unions confederation in Hong Kong dissolved in 2021. Over 100 independent trade unions in Hong Kong have decided to dissolve or cease operations under the climate of fear. 

3. New restrictions on trade union activities 

The Hong Kong Labour Department established a new high-ranking post specifically responsible for national security functions soon after the NSL was implemented. Since then, the department has launched a new wave of repression, for example, warning union organisers that their online speeches might violate the Trade Union Ordinances. 


Hong Kong Labour Rights Monitor (HKLRM) is a non-profit organisation established in late 2021 in the UK by a team of independent trade unionists, labour rights activists, and researchers. 




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