Original: 【只要有人，就可以繼續寫自己的故事——職工盟副主席鄧建華】, published on HKCTU’s Facebook page.
Translator: Grilled saury
Editor’s Note: This is the first 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 am a labor organizer and the Vice Chair of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (CTU).
As organizers, it is our mission to support workers in changing unequal labor relations and the social system, and to uphold the values in our line of work. Over the past 31 years, generations of labor organizers have joined alongside workers to build up a base of independent unions and establish our own stronghold.
We have seen the possibility of social change in the struggles and coming together of workers. In the past, many of the workers who came out to fight were marginalized in society, and mainstream society was used to seeing their situation as normal, or ignoring their voices completely. To organize is to bring them together, to work together, to fight against the mainstream values of society, to fight for change. The labor organizing movement has always been about confronting capital and the dominant values of society.
Generation after generation of organizers, whenever they encountered workers’ struggles, have found the motivation to go on. Our vision is that one day people from all walks of life in Hong Kong will be able to unite to realize their rights and fight for a more just and democratic society.
In the past, for the sake of a stronger social movement, we have been committed to connecting workers from different sectors, connecting with civil society and the democratic movement, connecting with the emerging unions of 2019, and connecting with the international community. All of this is now a crime. If it is a crime to walk alongside the workers and people of Hong Kong, then we only have four words in response: no complaints, no regrets.
You can force us to disband our organization, but you cannot destroy our beliefs. CTU is now facing dissolution, but all those who have worked with the labor movement over the years, the organizers and union members, no matter where they are now—in prison, in Hong Kong, or abroad—our hearts are all united. With this belief alone, we know that we are not separated.
We will not forget our “discontent” today. At this point, we certainly do not have enough strength to cope with the political crisis, and this “sense of discontentment” will be our final lesson to “union education.” Like many Hong Kong people, we have to learn how to survive in this absurd world.
No matter how much we have been labelled, smeared and suppressed over the past 31 years, the democratic labor movement cannot be erased. Here, I would like to thank every worker who has stood up and defended their rights.
We would also like to thank all the affiliated unions that have continued and persisted to the end. During today’s discussion, apart from our reluctance to part, we also witnessed the fighting spirit among union chapters and their willingness to hold onto their ideas and continue to wage struggle in the industry. We all know that labour organizing must not be stopped.
We know that the relationships forged among workers will not be dissipated by today’s decision. As long as there are people, we can continue to write our own stories. Throughout the past 31 years, we have gone wherever workers needed us. Where there’s a problem, there’s support. The struggles in every industry and workplace have proved that “where there is oppression, there is resistance.” We believe that this will continue to be the case in the future.
Let me conclude by quoting from a letter from our former Chair.
I remain convinced that the spirit of the union is the same as that which I used to guard every fellow traveler: We must stay until the last possible moment, until everyone is safe. The union must be the front line of defence for the workers and the last line of defence for all of us. We bid farewell to this part of our journey today with tears in our eyes, hoping that we will meet again someday, somewhere with smiles on our faces.
As long as people are here, we can continue to write our own stories.