HONG KONG: Unions protest 'anti-subversion' law

Issue 

BY
EVA CHENG

An international campaign against the Hong Kong government's attempt
to introduce an anti-union and anti-civil rights law in the guise of combating
“sedition” and “subversion” have received strong support from trade unions
around the world.

The proposed law is based on the article 23 of Hong Kong's quasi-constitution,
the Basic Law, against which 60,000 people protested in mid-December. The
legislation basically extends the totalitarian controls on labour struggles
and political activity in operation in mainland China to the Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region (SAR).

Members from more than 70 trade unions around the world have emailed
their concerns with the proposed legislation to Hong Kong SAR chief executive
Tung Chee Hwa since the campaign was launched in early January by the Hong
Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), China Labour Bulletin (CLB)
and the London-based trade union website, LabourStart.

In their submissions, the HKCTU and the CLB expressed concerns that
the proposed law would undermine workers' right to take collective industrial
action, with the CLB adding that it had “hard evidence in mainland China
where workers and labour activists are imprisoned on subversion charges
simply for exercising the core workers' rights of free association and
collective bargaining”.

Four workers' leaders who organised massive protests in Liaoning province,
northern China, last March to defend workers' entitlements have been detained
for nine months without a trial. Two of them, Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang,
were even recently charged with subversion. This is a gauge on how far
the SAR government might stretch the definition of subversion under its
anti-subversion law.

The Australian unions which have joined the protests include Australian
Manufacturing Workers' Union; the Community and Public Sector Union; the
Australian Writers Guild; Australian Services Union; Finance Sector Union;
Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union; NSW Labor Council;
National Tertiary Industry Education Union; NSW Public Service Association;
and the Service and Food Workers Union.

To join the international online protest campaign visit <http://www.labourstart.org/actnow/20021227.shtml>.

From Green Left Weekly, January 29, 2003.

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