HK’s most influential pro-opposition trade unions’ group begins process of disbanding

18-Sep-2021 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 5:02 AM Print This Post

Leaders of Hong Kong’s most prominent pro-opposition trade unions’ group have begun the process of disbanding the confederation, sources have told the Post.

But Joe Wong Nai-yuen, the president of the Confederation of Trade Unions (CTU), would neither confirm nor deny that on Friday.

He would only say the confederation had met “late into the night” on Thursday, and decided to hold a press conference this weekend.

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“We will meet on Sunday to discuss [with the press] the matters reported by the media,” he said. “I do not wish to add anything.”

The briefing would be held at the union’s premises in Yau Ma Tei, Wong said, but no time had yet been set.

The group’s annual general meeting is expected to be held next month, and Wong would not say if the confederation planned to propose a motion to disband at that time.

Leo Tang Kin-wah, a member of the standing committee, said the CTU would announce “everything in one go on Sunday”.

Later on Friday, another prominent opposition-leaning union, the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance, was expected to submit information about its past work in response to a request earlier this month from the Labour Department’s Registry of Trade Unions.

David Chan Kwok-shing, the group’s acting chair, said the registry could be looking into deregistering the union, but that he would visit the Harbour Building in Sheung Wan on Friday afternoon to hand over the information.

Since June, at least 15 opposition groups or unions had disbanded or announced they would. They included the Civil Human Rights Front, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, and the Professional Teachers’ Union (PTU).

The CTU was co-founded in 1990 by veteran opposition stalwart Lee Cheuk-yan, who has served as its secretary general since then.

In April, Lee was sentenced to 14 months in prison over an unauthorised assembly, and earlier this month, he was charged with inciting subversion under the national security law.

Wong took over as the confederation’s president after Carol Ng Man-yee was charged with subversion earlier this year.

Now boasting more than 145,000 members, the CTU is one of the two most influential labour unions in Hong Kong, with the other one being the pro-establishment Federation of Trade Unions.

The group, which has a long history of aligning itself with the city’s opposition, has nearly 100 affiliated sector-based unions. It was vocal during the 2019 anti-government protests, and had encouraged workers sympathetic with the cause to set up trade unions to bolster the opposition movement, often using worker strikes as part of its tactics.

But in recent months, several civil groups and trade unions have come under intense scrutiny by authorities since Beijing’s imposition of a national security law last year.

The PTU, the city’s largest teachers’ union, announced it was disbanding earlier after a wave of attacks by pro-Beijing media and the Hong Kong government’s move to cut ties.

The CTU is also a member of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, the group that organises the city’s annual vigil commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

The alliance was recently targeted by the national security police, with its seven leaders charged either with subverting state power, or failing to comply with police demands to hand over operational and financial details, an offence set out by the national security law.

Police also ordered the group, which kept a sizeable archive on the 1989 crackdown, to shut down its website and social media platforms on Thursday.

The union is also a member of the Civil Human Rights Front, the umbrella group behind most of Hong Kong’s biggest protests. The front was also ordered to hand over details of its operations and assets by police under a different local statute governing societies, before it announced it was folding in August.


Category: Hong Kong

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