Statement of the China Inquiry Commission

The China Inquiry Commission today was informed of the decision of the Executive Committee of the HKCTU, the independent trade unions confederation in Hong Kong, to prepare the disbanding of the union organization, which will be put to a membership vote on October 3. The decision is a measure to protect union activists and follows smear campaigns and physical threats from the government, accusing the HKCTU of being the « black hand » behind the 2019 mass protests against the extradition bill and of « colluding with foreign forces ».

After throwing HKCTU chairwoman Carol Ng and general secretary Lee Cheuk-yan into jail earlier this year, the government is now forcing the union leaders to resign and the confederation to dissolve. This follows the suppression of the HKPTU teachers’ union last month, a 95,000-member union affiliated to the HKCTU, and presages further attacks on the trade union movement, for example on the HAEA, the hospital staff union, which is now accused of violating the law. 

Thus, this trade union confederation, independent of the government, which was once strong with a hundred or so unions and 145,000 members, is being forced by a government led and monopolized by the Chinese Communist Party to give up defending the demands and rights of workers. 

The China Inquiry Commission, which has placed international workers’ solidarity at the heart of its activities for thirty years, considering that « the right of workers to independent organization knows no borders », condemns these attacks on independent unions and organizations defending workers’ rights. For example, the AMRC, a regional labour information organization based in Hong Kong, was also forced to leave the city. Dozens of organizations and unions in Asia immediately gave their support in a statement, which was endorsed by the China Inquiry Commission.

The AMRC led in 1994 a campaign to expose the working conditions of China’s toy workers as dictated by Hong Kong bosses in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, where 87 young female workers lost their lives one night in 1993 when the factory-dormitory-warehouse burned down, with the doors padlocked from the outside and the windows barred. And it is the same people who yesterday protected the bosses in Shenzhen who today condemn the HKCTU and the AMRC in Hong Kong.

Anyway, this power will not be able to prevent the food delivery workers, the workers of Hong Kong and elsewhere in China from demonstrating for their demands, just as it will not be able to prevent the commemoration of the massacre of workers and youth in Tian Anmen in 1989 that the HKCTU has been holding since then with a candlelight vigil.

The China Inquiry Commission urges again the leaders of the international labour movement: it is your imperative duty to strongly condemn these attacks on the Chinese labour movement and to demand the release of the imprisoned HKCTU trade unionists, as well as the respect of the imprescriptible right to freely form trade unions. J. Wong, who still chairs the HKCTU, said yesterday: “Workers’ movements always stressed international solidarity. The HKCTU cooperating or connecting with unions in other regions is natural and justifiable, the government never said in the past 30 years that this is in violation of any laws,” said Wong.

September 20, 2021

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