Text: Hong Kong Labor Rights Monitor Special Correspondent
In response to calls from UK trade unions, over a hundred people protested outside the Chinese embassy in London on a gusty and drizzly Sunday. They gathered to show solidarity with the 47 Hong Kong democrats charged with “conspiracy to commit subversion” for organising primaries for the 2020 Legislative Council elections. While the landmark national security trial in Hong Kong resumed, various Hong Konger communities were holding similar protests and rallies across the world. However, today’s protest organised and led by the Workers Against the CCP and other active unionists in the UK, highlighted international solidarity.
Trade union members carrying flags from local trade unions, including UNISON, British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA), EQUITY, and others, participated in the protest. People gathered in front of petition boards to demand the immediate release of Lee Cheuk-yan, former General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), Carol Ng, former Chairperson of the HKCTU, and Winnie Yu, former Chairperson of the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (HAEA) and all the other political prisoners. They sang “Solidary Forever” in English and Cantonese at the end of the protest, demonstrating the harmony of two different languages in the same melody. The trial not only reminded Hong Kongers of their democratic struggle but also brought trade unionists from Hong Kong and beyond together in the battle against repression.
HKLRM: The regime puts people’s lives in danger by weaponising the National Security Law
Christopher Siu-tat Mung, a former member of HKCTU and Executive Director of Hong Kong Labour Rights Monitor(HKLRM), attended the protest, supporting his comrades in the labour rights struggle in Hong Kong. He mentioned in his speech that the majority of the 47 Democrats had been imprisoned for over 1,000 days before the trial’s verdict, leaving their families and children behind. Mung was saddened to see their loss of freedom. He reiterated that the 47 democratic activists exercised their legal rights and did nothing to endanger society. He criticised the government as autocratic for weaponising the National Security Law in Hong Kong, putting Hong Kong people’s lives in danger.
A Hong Kong labour researcher, Au Loong Yu, who wrote an English book on Hong Kong’s anti-extradition law amendment bill movement that was published in French, Japanese and other languages, also participated in the protest. He explained that the Chinese authorities suppressed the Legislative Council primary and trade union movements out of fear of people power. He claimed people from various segments and generations of the democratic clan came together to organise the primaries for the 2020 Legislative Council elections, making the government’s strategy of rule and divide impossible. The 5 August general strike across industries and the new trade union movement in 2019 paved the way for another high point in Hong Kong’s democratic movement.
BASSA: Carol Ng is a determined and fearless trade unionist
Worker solidarity knows no borders. Among the protesting trade unionists were BASSA members who had worked with Carol Ng to protect flight attendants’ interests. Carol worked closely with BASSA comrades as the former chair of the British Airways Hong Kong International Cabin Crew Association (BAHKICCA) to challenge British Airways’ retirement age for Hong Kong flight attendants in UK courts. One of the participants described Carol as a “miracle woman’’ who makes the impossible things possible. According to another BASSA representative, Carol is a trade unionist with a kind heart who always represents the member interests tenaciously and fearlessly in the face of the authorities. She praised Carol’s efforts in rallying HAHKICCA to support the BASSA strike against pay cuts from the parent company. She said, ‘(Carol) She is not alone. She will never be forgotten, as she never forgets us.’
UNISON activist criticises the UK Asylum Policy
Ben, an active trade unionist in the public service industry from UNISON, urged the UK government to provide more assistance to Hong Kongers who face persecution from the Hong Kong government and travel to the UK without BNO visas. He found that some must unwillingly return to Hong Kong after failing to complete the arduous application process for political asylum in the UK. He urged the UK government to honour its commitment to democracy by giving Hong Kong asylum seekers fundamental rights and protection. He also hoped for more concerns from the UK government about the needs of Hong Kongers arriving in the country. He pointed out the problem that ‘’Hong Kongers are denied recourses to a social safety net, potentially leaving them destitute in an economic crisis.’’