Hong Kong to hold its first-ever poll on strike action against national security law

Hong Kong trade unions hand the ballots over to its members to decide on strike action as the city’s autonomy and civil liberties may be threatened by the forthcoming national security legislation.

Photo: Labour coalition HK on Strike calls for unions-wide participation in an upcoming referendum to vote on a motion to strike against the national security law.

HK on Strike, a labour coalition comprising 23 trade unions across 20 industries so far, will carry out a referendum on 14 June to determine whether the workers will go on strike to demand the Hong Kong government to abandon Beijing’s national security legislation. 

Tsui Hau-lai, the representative of the Hong Kong Hotel Employees Union, said the strike could be triggered on condition that at least 60,000 members join the poll and 60 percent of them vote in support of the motion. Meanwhile, 80 percent of the trade unions will need to achieve the goals of votes in favour they have set. The times and venues of the poll are to be confirmed. 

“Referendum can truly reflect people’s opinion. As compared to the pro-Beijing’s petition campaign in support of the national security law that claimed to have 300 million signatures, our coalition, as a legal organisation, can show how many people in Hong Kong, who are identifiable, are against the law,” Tsui said. 

‘’HK on Strike – Labour Union Coalition” calls for the first referendum on General Strike.

The first stage of strike intends to “alert the government” and will last for three days. Members can choose to be absent from work with annual leave or no-paid holidays. According to Tang Cheuk-man, Hong Kong Information Technology Workers’ Union representative, if there is no response from the government, the action will be escalated to the second stage in which labourers refuse to work. The strike will persist until the legislation is withdrawn, the coalition said. 

The 23 trade unions now have 10,000 members. Carol Ng, the chairperson of Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, said the poll will continue even if they cannot recruit 60,000 members before the date it is held. She said people could walk in to register and vote on that date. 

In a statement, the coalition criticises the proposed national security law for being a tool to exploit “Hongkongers’ freedom and undermine the ‘one country, two systems’ principle”. It also says Hong Kong labourers will be the “victims” of the law due to possible divestment of foreign companies and sanctions. 

Participating labour unions will continue “street counters” in Mong Kok today, promoting the referendum and encouraging members to take part next week.

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the author

Sara is a journalism student at Hong Kong Baptist University. Her one-year exchange journey at Emerson College in the United States and high school experience at UWC Robert Bosch College in Germany have cultivated her interests in politics and social injustices.