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Arresting trade unionists is a threat to workers’ rights everywhere, global unions call for the immediate release of Hong Kong activists

news Press Release 04 Mar 2021

Global unions have extended their solidarity to the 47 activists from Hong Kong arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit subversion under the new National Security Law on Sunday, 28 February 2021.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) today demanded that Hong Kong drop all charges against the 47 activists and facilitate their immediate and unconditional release. 

Among the 47 activists are two trade unionists – Carol Ng, Chairperson of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and Winnie Yu, Chair of the Hospital Authority Employees’ Alliance. Carol is a well-respected leader in the ITF’s civil aviation work.

Ng and Yu, both committed trade unionists, have been charged with conspiring to commit subversion of state power for their involvement in the 2020 Legislative Council elections. 

Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary and Chair of the Council of Global Unions (CGU) reinforced Ng and Yu’s fundamental rights to further trade union and workers’ rights. 

“Defending democracy and workers’ rights is not a crime. Being a trade unionist is not a crime. These rights are protected by international law. The global trade union movement stands in absolute solidarity with Carol and Winnie as they face persecution for defending the hard-won rights of workers,” said Cotton. 

“The arrest of these 47 other activists, once more puts the spotlight on the new National Security Law in Hong Kong which flagrantly violate fundamental civil, political, and labour rights protected in international law,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

“Trade unions, their members and representatives, must have the right to organise protest action and engage in political activities. It is not against the law to express support for a political party that defends the interests of workers, or to be in contact with international organisations of workers and employers. Carol and Winnie’s prosecution is a clear sign that these freedoms are now under attack,” said Burrow.