Editor’s Note: This is the fifth and last in our series of translations of short letters and statements from members of HKCTU that were posted on their Facebook page upon the news of their disbandment on September 17, 2021 due to increasing repression and harassment from pro-Beijing media and the Hong Kong government. We share these translations here to preserve the history of the city’s progressive and independent unionism and to honor HKCTU’s decades of organizing and struggle to better the lives of Hong Kong workers.
I’m not sure if anyone recalls how, after the August 5th General Strike in 2019, workers from many different sectors began to form their own group chats on Telegram. At the time, many hotel workers founded their own groups and began sharing news and discussing how they could also organize a strike. Some people in that group wanted to meet face-to-face to discuss the logistics, but it ended up dragging on for a while before we actually met.
The Polytechnic University siege—and all the events that led up to it—activated even more workers. So by mid-late November, around twenty hotel workers in the Telegram group finally came around to formally discuss creating a union. At the time we thought it was just a group of random directionless workers who populated the Telegram channels, but we realized later that HKCTU staffers were pivotal in agitating some of us behind the scenes. In our first meeting together, we decided to affiliate with HKCTU to get things started.
In the unionization wave of 2020, CTU staffers were often doing the so-called “shitwork.” Besides helping to kickstart some of the unions, they were pivotal to a lot of the behind-the-scenes work supporting the hospital workers’ strike, the June 20th cross-sector strike. Many people don’t realize this, and we want to take this moment to thank our friends in HKCTU.
“Once there was a genuine connection placed in front of me, but I neglected to treasure it. I only realized its value when it’s lost. These are some of the most painful experiences in life!”
As we watch all parties and civil society organizations fall one by one, we sigh together in grief and send out post after post to commemorate. We might not be able to recover the affections and bonds we once had, but we can organize again even if an organization dies.
Whether it’s hotel work or other sectors, we anticipate working conditions becoming worse and worse. And when things are so bad that we can’t even fix them by changing jobs, we hope everyone will wake up. We can still band together in solidarity to raise our collective demands—just like before.