Threats and Persecution Confirm that We Are Doing the Right Thing
In July of this year, the Hong Kong National Security Police placed a HK$1 million bounty on me for my work on international trade union solidarity and advocacy of Hong Kong workers’ rights. Despite witnessing transnational repression by authorities since then, I have not been deterred. The threats and persecutions by authoritarian governments only serve to confirm that we did the right thing. My colleagues from the Hong Kong Labour Rights Monitor and I will continue to monitor labour rights in Hong Kong while also backing the independent labour rights movement and all the incarcerated trade unionists.
Though we have been forced to flee and settle in a foreign land, we keep an eye on each other. We began providing labour rights education to Hong Kongers in the UK last year after noticing that newly arrived Hong Kongers were keen to learn more about their labour rights. We brought education talks and exhibitions nationwide and spread labour protection information through social media.
Hong Kong is not alone in suffering suppression at the hands of an oppressive government. Other countries’ trade unions endure similar labour rights violations. A few of the focuses of our work next year will be on involving trade unions that have been suppressed by authoritarian regimes and strengthening global solidarity against totalitarianism. As long as our convictions stay strong, more people with similar beliefs will flock to us, and the road to democracy will broaden.
We watch out for one another and move towards an equal, free society that respects its workers.
Hong Kong Labour Rights Monitor
OUR WORK IN 2023
Amplifying Hong Kong workers’ voices in the world has been a focus of our work this past year. We made submissions to several UN councils and committees, i.e. the Human Rights Council, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and other non-government organisations, underlining how the Hong Kong authorities are increasingly weaponising the National Security Law (NSL) to clamp down on human and trade union rights in Hong Kong. Statements expressing concerns over the deterioration of labour rights in Hong Kong were issued, including:
- Four UN Special Rapporteurs issued a statement, expressing serious concern about the first mass trial of 47 people under the Hong Kong NSL and the issuance of arrest warrants for and bounties on pro-democracy figures.
- The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights published its concluding observation, raising concern over the independence of Hong Kong’s judiciary, trade union rights, and human rights defenders and lawyers.
- The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women delivered its concluding observations, expressing concern over the forced cancellation of the march organised by the Hong Kong Women Workers’ Association on International Women’s Day
Trade Union Solidarity
In the face of repression, we must stand together. We attended the activities organised by trade unionists from the UK, France, Sweden, Canada, and Italy, among others, who have been supporting our campaigns. We were also pleased to have UNISON co-host our first solidarity reception. The TUC and Labour Party representatives attending the reception pledged their unwavering support for Hong Kong’s independent trade union movement. We were heartened to see the international solidarity among trade unions that are campaigning for the immediate release of Hong Kong trade unionists incarcerated and an end to the persecution of other trade unionists, such as Elizabeth Tang, former General Secretary of the International Domestic Workers Federation, former Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, and Christopher Mung, the Director of HKLRM. At the resumption of the trial of the HK47 Democrats, trade unionists stood in solidarity and protested outside the Chinese embassy in London, which further encouraged us.
Monitor Hong Kong Labour Rights Issues
Report and analyse the labour rights situation in Hong Kong
Since the authorities introduced the NSL, over 175 trade unions have been decimated, and at least 12 trade unionists have been arrested or convicted. We must honour our freedom and speak up for Hong Kong’s workers in the face of repression. We published a report titled ‘The State of Labour in Hong Kong 2022,’ that demonstrates how the national security laws and regulations brought about in response to COVID have seriously undermined labour rights in Hong Kong.
We also used our publications, analyses, and media appearances to advocate for workers in Hong Kong. We published 84 blogs in Chinese or English and were interviewed by media outlets in Hong Kong, Taiwan, France, Italy, Canada, Sweden, and the USA.
Carry on the spirit of the Hong Kong Labour Rights Movement
We held ten labour rights talks and the exhibition ‘Be Water-Persist’ in seven cities and towns around the UK. The talks and exhibitions brought together Hong Kongers in the UK, reminding them of the resilience and power of the trade union movement in Hong Kong. We encouraged these Hong Kongers to join trade unions in the UK and continue the spirit of independent trade unionism.
We also publicised articles to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Hong Kong Dockers’ strike, the 16th anniversary of the bar-bender strike and the interview series with Hong Kong Diaspora Trade Unionists.
We hope to see you at future talks, either in person or online, soon!
We were glad to have your support and advice all throughout 2023. Your support drives us to go further. Please help us by circulating this email among your contacts to inform more people about the recent developments in #HKLabourRights. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more updates.
This has been a wrap-up of our work in 2023, and we will see you in our January 2024 next newsletter!
Hong Kong Labour Rights Monitor