UNI Global Union is joining the ITUC and the trade union movement worldwide in lamenting that the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) is disbanding itself.
In recent months the HKCTU and its member organizations have faced unprecedented attacks, intimidation and allegations of offences under a repressive national security law enacted in July last year. The personal safety of union leaders has also been threatened.
The HKCTU’s decision is part of the process of the dismantling of civil society in Hong Kong since the law came into force.
Since August, the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists and the Hong Kong-based labour advocacy organization, the Asia Monitor Resource Center, have also decided to dissolve themselves.
The HKCTU’s General Secretary Lee Cheuk Yan is currently serving prison sentences for taking part in public assemblies. He is facing additional charges of inciting subversion for promoting democracy.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: “Since its foundation over 30 years ago, the HKCTU has made enormous contributions to improving life for people in Hong Kong through obtaining improvements in labour legislation, wages and social protection.
“We condemn the prosecution and imprisonment of trade union leaders as well as the recent threats against Hong Kong trade unionists. The Chinese authorities have also alleged that the HKCTU’s affiliation to the ITUC and its legitimate cooperation with unions from other countries involves collusion, even though international affiliation and cooperation are protected under ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association.”
UN human rights experts have stated that China’s law on “Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” does not conform with international human rights treaties. The use of national security terminology in the law criminalizes rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
UNI joins the ITUC in calling on the Chinese and Hong Kong authorities to cease prosecutions and intimidation of trade unionists and advocates for fundamental freedoms, and to release those who have been imprisoned.