Three Basic Labour Rights and the New Trade Union Movement in Hong Kong
By Apo Leong (President, Hong Kong Social Security Society)
In the Spring of 2019, a new trade union movement emerged along the “Anti-Extradition Bill” Movement. This movement has brought a new page in the trade union movement in Hong Kong. This article aims to discuss how the new trade union movement challenges the existing labour laws, covering the “trade union and strike”, “registration of trade unions” and “collective bargaining” issues, particularly under the Trade Unions Ordinance. It is hoped that the discussion could arouse more comments and thoughts which will enhance the development of the trade union movement in Hong Kong.
Trade union registration
Trade union is a self-governing combination, but a trade union cannot function publicly without the prior approval of the Registry of Trade Unions. Otherwise, the trade union is classified as an illegal body. 
The legal protection of workers in a place is generally assessed by its substantial implementation of three basic rights of workers, “the right to organize trade union” or “right to organizing”, “right to collective bargaining” or “right to bargain collectively” and “right to strike” or “right to collective action”. To respect the self-governance of a trade union and to materialize Convention 98 of the International Labour Organization (ILO), many countries have no compulsory registration system, such as France. 
In Hong Kong, the freedom to organize a trade union is guaranteed by the Basic Law, the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance and two international human rights covenants, namely the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and is monitored in accordance with Conventions 87 and 98 of the ILO. The labour provisions look good but their implementation has gone different in the city's history.
The Hong Kong Colonial Government took very cautious position towards trade unions. In the early development in the territory, many labour groups were seen as a part of the triad society. A typical case was the two forceful de-registration and closures of the Hong Kong Seamen’s Union. In 1948, the Government issued the Trade Unions and Trade Disputes Ordinance. The said Ordinance followed the British model and had the purpose to regulate Hong Kong’s trade unions as “bread-and-butter” trade unions in the UK. 
The Ordinance stipulates that a trade union should be registered by the Registry of Trade Unions in 30 days after its establishment. In its application for registration, a trade union has to submit its articles endorsed by at least 7 founders. Now the Registry has drafted a model constitution. If a new trade union follows the model constitution, the registration will be approved smoothly. In the provision, trade union serves as a bridge to conciliate the employer-employee relation or labour-labour relation, or even employer-employer relation (section 2). This is a traditional role of trade union in the UK, which involves both employer and employee. It is different from a labour union (only workers), such as a labour union in the US. In its yearbook, the Registry of Trade Unions lists three kinds of trade unions in Hong Kong, (1) employee unions composed of employees only, (2) employer associations composed of employers only and (3) mixed organizations composed of both employers and employees (see Table 1).
Table 1: Numbers of Registered Trade Unions














































38 10,267
















Note 1: The data of the number of members are in italics
Source: Registry of Trade Unions, Annual Statistical of Trade Unions in Hong Kong 2018 (HK: Labour Department, 2019) & Registry of Trade Unions, Annual Statistical of Trade Unions in Hong Kong 2019 (HK: Labour Department, 2020).
Now many employer associations have been registered as limited companies or societies, while some employer associations have dissolved because their particular industries have waned gradually. So, the number of employer associations is in decline. Changes have happened to employee unions, too. Hong Kong’s core industries have shifted from the manufacturing industry to the service industry. Employees with formal employment relation have been in decline gradually. Temporary workers, the free-lanced, the faked self-employed, dispatch workers, “ghost” workers and informal workers are increasing by leaps and bounce. It makes labour organizing more difficult. 
The Trade Unions Ordinance stipulates that workers who organize a trade union must come from the same work, industry or enterprise. It imposes more hurdles in trade union registration and makes community-based trade union impossible. For instance, if someone wants to organize a “housewife” union, they earn no wages as income and have no employers, their application for registration will be rejected. Many unions in this new trade union movement are in this category, such as Free-lance Service Workers’ Union.
Dr Law Chi-kwong, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, shared on his website on April 20, 2020 that there were 1,578 applications for trade union registration in Jan-March 2020, 100 times of the total applications in 2018. Moreover, 1,607 applications from November 2019 to March 2020 had not yet been examined. He estimated that it would take 50 years to clear all applications.
This is unprecedent and good news to labour activists. But we need to be careful in three issues. Firstly, it is the matters of quantity and quality. Increase in number of trade unions does not necessarily imply more power of workers. For example, many trade unions only cover a small number of workers. Like the clerks in the Government may join 10 different trade unions (not including the trade unions of clerks' own departments). The second one is union members’ quality. Are they class- and rights- oriented or welfare-oriented? Thirdly, will the new trade union movement be divided? Will sectarianism prevail in the movement? Will yellow trade unions emerge? All these will weaken workers’ solidarity. It takes longer time to see.
“Seven-persons” unions is criticized as a tactics by which the Government tries to damage or divide workers’ solidarity. But now both pro-government and anti-government camps make use of this rule of “freedom of association” to strengthen their power. NOW TV makes a research that from June 2019 to May 2020, 230 trade unions were registered. The media visited 159 trade unions and found that many of them existed in name only.
This phenomenon does not occur today only. For a long time, Hong Kong’s trade unions generally have small membership and receive meager membership fee (usually HK$ 10 or below each month). Many unions earn their income by organizing various kinds of recreational activities. With limited resources, they hardly have their own offices and hire staffs. Many unions can only share office with others due to high property rent. Moreover, since a worker can join more than one union, the reported membership is over-stated. Another key issue is that the registered unions are entitled to run the Legislative Council election (3 seats), the Nomination Committee election for the Chief Executive (60 seats) and the election of Workers’ Representatives of the Labour Advisory Board (5 seats). All these reasons cause a rapid growth of trade unions. 
Table 2: Numbers of Registered Trade Unions in 2019 (by size of declared members)

Declared membership

No. of Trade Unions

Total Declared Membership

50 persons or under



51-250 persons



250-1,000 persons



1,001-5,000 persons



Over 5,000 persons






Source: Registry of Trade Unions, Annual Statistical of Trade Unions in Hong Kong 2019 (HK: Labour Department, 2020).
On average, each union has around 1,019 persons. The unions with 1,000 members or below are 779, around 85% of the total registered trade unions. They are very crucial in the election on the basis of the one-union-one-vote system. Among them, at least 40 unions are “ghost unions”. Their membership has been under 7 persons, but they have not yet been deregistered by the Registry of Trade Unions, such as Schneider Electric Employees Association (6 members), Hong Kong Stevedores Union (Chap-Yin) (2 members).
Strict limitations apply to the federation of trade unions or amalgamation of trade unions. First, it must be approved by the Registry of Trade Unions. Second, associations across various works and industries are not approved. The Hong Kong Civil Servants General Union’s application was not approved until they changed the qualifications of membership. Now all the federations of trade unions from different sectors in Hong Kong are registered as societies, like Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (CTU), The Hong Kong Federations of Trade Unions (FTU), The Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions (FLU) and Hong Kong and Kowloon Trades Union Council (TUC).
Protection of trade unions
Trade union can provide two main protection, or “privileges”. One is prohibition of actions against any tortious acts and protection from civil lawsuit for acts done in contemplation or furtherance of trade dispute. Second, trade union shall not, by reason merely that they are in restraint of trade, be deemed to be unlawful and subject to criminal prosecution (sections 40-43A, Trade Unions Ordinance).
In the traditional market economy, the employment contract between a worker and his/her employer should not be impaired, so-called “fifty-fifty power”. When a group of workers join together to fight for better wages or working conditions, or they take collective actions to render their employer to compromise, they may be liable to criminal prosecution for “conspiracy” or breach of social harmony, or liable to civil claim for employer’s economic loss.
Most industrial actions are initiated by workers, and trade union gets in later. Trade union either directly bargains with the employer or sets back to offer advice to the workers concerned. Moreover, the constitutions of trade unions stipulate that any industrial actions moved by a trade union shall be passed by a general meeting of the trade union before actions taken. Individual members are not allowed to take private industrial actions. Therefore, the industrial actions that are not endorsed by a trade union, like wildcat/lightning strike actions, are subject to civil or criminal prosecution.
However, the general strikes in the last two years are more or less related to political issues, not merely labour disputes. The protection under the Trade Unions Ordinance may not apply. For instance, are the strike of medical professionals in February this year and the strike of social workers in June last year regarded as labour disputes? Are the “Three Strikes” (Industrial Strike, School Strike and Market Strike) Campaigns in August and November 2019 respectively considered labour disputes too?
Common strategies adopted by companies against industrial actions are to divide the workers and to recruit temporary workers. Another common way is to attack the union activists, including blacklist of the activists, re-position, wage deduction, termination of employment or imposing pressures. Or companies employ human resources consultant (“trade union killers”) to seek assistance. The past examples include the mass dismissal of the Mass Transit Railway Corporation Staff Union in 1983 and the Seiko Union in 1986. The dismissals created a gap of succession of the two unions’ management. Attacks against individual union activists include the officers of The K.M.B. Staff Union, Housing Department Caretakers’ Union, Cable and Wireless Limited Hong Kong Staff Association, Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Flight Attendants Association, Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association and Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union.
Companies in name of other reasons, like workers’ misbehavior, poor performance and business difficulties, avoid the allegations of discrimination against trade union when they harass individual union activists. Workers who conduct or participate in trade union activities are legally protected (see Part IVA of the Employment Ordinance). Workers who join strike should not be fired. (section 9(2) of the Employment Ordinance). Employer should not force employees to sign the yellow-dog contract (as a condition of employment, not to be a member of a labor union). But the recent notorious case against trade union is the discredit made by the Chief Executive and the Hospital Authority against the medical professionals who took part in the strike in February this year. The Authority even claimed that victimizations are forthcoming.
Last year, the Hong Kong Government emphasized that civil servants had to be politically neutral and loyal to the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. It aroused severe criticism of the unions of civil servants that the freedom and protection of trade union were endangered. Jia-He Lin, a Taiwan legal scholar, states well, “Under the normative structure of the doctrinal study of law, it is not well grounded to restrain or deprive an employee of the constitutional rights in the reason of loyal comply to contractual obligation and its legal implications.” 
It is much regretted that there have been too few successful cases on the legal charges of employers’ discrimination against trade union, such as the case of UA Cinemas in 1999. Since the burden of proof is placed upon workers, it makes the legal charges very difficult. The labour side demands a reverse that the burden of proof should be placed upon employer, but the legislation has not yet proceeded. Furthermore, the dismissed workers do not enjoy the full right to reinstatement. The workers may be granted some financial compensation only. It severely undermines the trade union movement.
The Employment Ordinance was amended on October 19, 2018. The courts, under request of the employee for reinstatement or re-employment, may grant an order of reinstatement or re-employment without prior consent of the employer. But we need to take time to see if the regulation is realized really.
To change the poor protection of workers, we must fight for the unfair dismissal provisions (like the UK), the unfair labour measures (like the US) and the right to collective bargaining.
Industrial actions
Usually the various industrial actions taken by trade union are signature campaign, work-to-rule, sabotage, strike, sit-in protest, occupying the factory, hanging banners, posting posters, demonstration and marching, etc. The Trade Unions Ordinance regulates a strike and its picketing. Moreover, industrial action is also governed by the Labour Relations Ordinance and the Employment Ordinance as well as the Public Order Ordinance because industrial actions are usually organized in public areas. Some cases may be categorized as the prohibited activities according to Chapter 3 of the National Security Law on Hong Kong and the Emergency Regulations Ordinance. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government by prohibiting group gathering, suppresses the labour movement. For instance, the demonstration of May Day this year was forced to cancel.
Hong Kong workers seem to enjoy the right to strike and the right to assembly (Article 27 of the Basic Law), and the rights are guaranteed by Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance (sections 17-18) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 8). But when workers carry out these, operations are controlled by various obstructions.
First, an employer may apply for injunction or close the factory and force the strike workers and their supporters out of the workshop or the designated area, such as the Taikoo Dockyard strike in 1973, the Nan Fung Cotton Mills strike in 1985, the HIT Terminal strike in 2013. The Police could also use the Public Order Ordinance to impose restrictions on workers’ marching, assembly, demonstration and the use of laud-hailer (the Cable and Wireless strike in 1970, the bar-benders’ strike in 2007). In the early Hong Kong colonial period, many labour activists were seen as “unwelcome persons” and were deported out to other places. In 1949, a police officer proudly shared that deportation was a trump card of the then Government. At that time, it was a matter of public knowledge that labour disputes and trade unions were closely monitored by the special branch of the Government.
Labour disputes generally involve (1) the disputes on rights and interests and (2) the conflicts in the political and economic arenas. The Labour Department of Hong Kong limits trade disputes to economic disputes only. All strikes related to political issues (with more than 30 persons), like the Riot in 1967, the “Three Strikes” Campaign and the One-Day Strike last year, are not counted as strikes. According to the Labour Department Annual Report 2018, the data of strikes and trade disputes are listed as below.
Table 3: Labour Data in Hong Kong





Number of Labour Disputes

Handled by

the Labour Relations Division




Number of Claims

Handled by

the Labour Relations Division




Number of Strikes


Number of Employees Involved

3 strikes

153 employees

3 strikes

148 employees

5 strikes

168 employees

Number of Working Days

Lost due to Strike per

Thousand Salaried

Employees and Wage Earners




Source: Labour Department: Labour Department Annual Report 2018.
The abovementioned data shows that labour disputes do not happen frequently in Hong Kong and not many workers get involved in the disputes. Number of the lost working days due to strike is typically low as compared with those in other countries.
According to the Heritage Foundation, Hong Kong was ranked as the “freest economy” for 25 years. It occupies the second one this year (89.1 marks). The Heritage Foundation, an US conservative foundation, has strongly supported the “Positive Non-intervention Policy” of the Hong Kong Government and has weighed freedom of business and finance much higher than labour rights. So, the Hong Kong Government tries to create a picture with a high harmony of labour relations, but it keeps its eyes closed to severe disadvantages of workers in the seriously unequal power relations in the areas of labour relations, politics and economics.
The early labour regulations in Hong Kong regarded a worker's lock-out of the employment and strike as criminal acts. After the Canton–Hong Kong strike in 1925-1926, the Illegal Strikes and Lockouts Ordinance was passed in 1927. It tried to prevent and criminalize the political strike. There were three main articles. make political strike illegal;
2. to prohibit any person's intent and attempt to menace and coerce others in a labour dispute;
3. to prevent trade unions in Hong Kong from endangering social order and stability of the city under control of foreign unions or organizations 
Moreover, the provision also prohibited any wild-cat strikes. Picketing in strike which obstructed government administration or made the public services suspended was deemed illegal. The provision followed the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act in 1927 in the UK which also aimed to suppress the trade union movement. Its objective was as same as that of the Illegal Strikes and Lockouts Ordinance in Hong Kong in 1927. The said Ordinance was replaced by the Labour Relations Ordinance in 1975. The provision adds the “follow-up” articles. After receiving the submission of the Commissioner for Labour, the Governor (the Chie Executive after the handover in 1997) may act the followings.
1. Appoint an Arbitration Tribunal composed of 1 or 3 arbitrators to proceed a hearing with the consent of both employer and employee, but the judgment is not legal-binding.
2. Appoint a Board of Inquiry fact-finding committee composed of 2 or more persons and to submit and publicize the public in a given time.
3. Meanwhile, the Governor (the Chief Executive after the handover in 1997) with the Executive Council, under an extraordinary situation, may commence a Cooling-off Period (30-60days) order. During the order period, workers cannot initiate, organize, further or finance strikes or any industrial actions, officially or unofficially.
Since the provision was amended in 1975, the Cooling-off Period order or appointments of the Arbitration Tribunal or the Board of Inquiry has not hitherto been applied. In the Hong Kong history, the only arbitration case successfully solved the labour disputes (Dairy Workers Strike in 1950) was irrelevant to the said provision. Regarding the labour disputes among civil servants, it is handled under the governance of the Civil Service Regulations.
Part VII of the Trade Unions Ordinance regulates picketing in strike. The provision stipulates that the purpose of picketing is to “peacefully obtain or communicate information or peacefully persuade any person to work or abstain from working”. Intimidation of any person is deemed illegal.
(a) uses violence to or intimidates such other person or his wife or children, or injures his property; or
(b) persistently follows such other person about from place to place; or
(c) hides any tools, clothes or other property owned or used by such other person, or deprives him of the same or hinders him in the use thereof; or
(d) watches or besets the house or other place where such other person resides or works or carries on business or happens to be or the approach to such house or place.
All the said regulations trap the workers or organizers of industrial actions easily subject to criminal charges. Therefore, the workers who participate in industrial actions enjoy little criminal and civil protection, but rather easily be subject to criminal and civil prosecution. It may still happen today.
Collective Bargaining
During the drafting of the Basic Law, the labour side proposed to introduce the right to collective bargaining, but it failed because of the opposition of the conversative camp. Few days before the handover (June 26, 1997), the private member’s bill of Lee Cheuk Yan of the CTU, Employee’s Rights to Representation, Consultation and Collective Bargaining Bill, was passed, but it was repealed by the Provisional Legislative Council three months later in the reason of that the provision caused “obstructions to the administration of the SAR Government”. The ordinance was repealed on October 29, 1997. CTU complained the issue to the ILO. The committee of freedom of association of the ILO made recommendations that the Hong Kong Government should make provisions to encourage and further the role of trade union, employer and concerned societies in facilitating free and voluntary collective bargaining. 
In Hong Kong, there is no law to demand that enterprises must recognize the role of trade union and proceed collective bargaining with trade union. The Labour Department emphasizes that collective bargaining is “voluntary” only. It follows the international labour conventions. But the experts of the ILO argued that voluntary bargaining refers to the fact that any persons who take part in the negotiation are from free coerce to conclude agreements.
There is no statistics on collective bargaining in Hong Kong. It was estimated that only 5% of the total labour population enjoy the benefits of collective agreement, but it was amended to 1.8% recently. It is far below the international standards. Today, it could be less because of strong capital and weak labour. Moreover, big enterprises cut core workers badly and instead employs abundant informal workers. The Labour Department also promotes employer-employee consultation and employer-employee dialogue in nine industries, catering, cement concrete, construction, hotel and tourism, logistics, printing, property management, retailing and theater.
Among the central employer-employee consultation bodies, the Labour Advisory Board (1927) is the most known. The Board was set up after the Canton-Hong Kong Strike. In the early stage, the Board was composed of employers’ representatives and later recruited labour representatives. After the World War II, all members of the labour side were appointed by the Government. Now the five seats of the labour side of the Board are elected among trade unions and one seat is appointed. Trade unions, regardless their scale of membership, have one vote. So, the seats are not elected by trade union members or workers directly. Under such circumstance, is the election result easily manipulated by federations of trade unions. In the early stage, the labour seats were dominated by the TUC, the Pro-Taiwan camp, because the FTU, the Pro-Beijing camp, boycotted the election. Now the labour seats are under the partitions of FLU, FTU and Civil Service Unions. To balance the power, the appointment seat usually goes to the TUC, the pro-Taiwan camp. Therefore, CTU, an independent camp, and independent persons are excluded. Today, new trade unions have emerged rapidly. It may change this power situation.
Table 4: Membership in Federations of Trade Unions (2018/2019)


No. of trade unions

Declared membership

The Hong Kong Federation

of Trade Unions



The Federation of Hong Kong

and Kowloon Labour Unions



Hong Kong Confederation

of Trade Unions



Hong Kong and Kowloon

Trades Union Council









Note 2: There are overlap membership in both FLU and CTU.
Note 3: The declared membership is usually over-stated. Around 70% are qualified members. 
Sources: Registry of Trade Unions, Annual Statistical of Trade Unions in Hong Kong 2018 (HK: Labour Department, 2019) & Annual Statistical of Trade Unions in Hong Kong 2019 (HK: Labour Department, 2020). The data are re-arranged by the author.
The Labour Advisory Board does not discuss the labour conditions of specific enterprises. It mainly discusses labour provisions and policies, such as labour importation schemes. Participation is more even among labour consultations at the industry level. Unions with strong representation (including the union members of CTU) are also involved. But the discussion touches only voluntary codes of conduct, not the wage issue, the centre issue of collective bargaining. The wage issue is now decided by the Minimum Wage Commission composed of people from employees, employers, management and individuals. But the Commission only touches the wage issue of the low-income workers. The last one is joint consultative council (JCC). It is a product after the riot in 1967. The Hong Kong colonial government took it in place of collective bargaining of individual enterprises (particularly the British investment) and especially those involved FTU. But the business reply was not active. In its climax, more than 50 JCCs were recorded, but it has not been strongly promoted since the late 1980’s.
But the labour consultation is used by enterprises. For instance, after the MTR strike, the enterprise suggested a consultative mechanism in order to weaken the power of the radical trade union.
The collective bargaining cases we could quote are Cable and Wireless, Cathay Pacific Airline and Swire Coco-cola. But these agreements are “gentleman’s agreements” only. They have not created big impact. Regarding civil servants, the labour relations discussion is seen as a kind of labour consultation, such as Disciplined Services Consultative Council, Model Scale 1 Staff Consultative Council, Senior Civil Service Council, Police Force Council, etc. and “consultations” of various departments. The last one is the agreements in the traditional industries and technical works, such as electrical, cement, scaffold building, bar bending and renovation workers.
Today, several issues of the new trade union movement should be raised for public discussion in order to move Hong Kong’s trade union movement forward.
1. The new trade union movement has not happened only in the last two years. After the World War II, there have been three waves of the trade union movement in Hong Kong. The first one is the wave after the commencement of the Trade Unions Ordinance in 1948. Both pro-KMT and pro-CCP actively organized or restructured trade unions. Many new trade unions emerged. Some trade unions even suddenly changed its political stances from pro-KMT to pro-CCP or the officers of trade unions changed after violent fighting. The second wave is the struggling of civil servants and white-collar workers in 1970’s-80’s. They set up more than 100 trade unions. The unions even actively got involved in the political and social affairs in Hong Kong, such as political reform, the drafting of the Basic Law, the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989, etc. The third wave is the “Three-Strikes” Campaign due to the Anti-extradition Bill Movement which has started a new trade union movement and political participation of trade unions, such as the elections of the Legislative Council, the Labour Advisory Board, the Nomination Committee.
This new trade union movement does not happen in Hong Kong only, but also in different places in 1980’s, such as the trade union revival in Taiwan after its lifting of martial law in 1987, the new trade union movement in South Korea in 1987 and new trade union movement in Indonesia. Hong Kong’s trade unionists could also learn from Solidarity in Poland how to link up church, academics and unions together and the movement in South Korea how to link up students, the progressive force and unions together. 
2. Under the influence of new liberalism, de-regulation and individualization prevail, which upholds that social changes could not be achieved by collective power. Trade unions in the whole world are attacked and marginalized. Someone even claims that union like dinosaur has disappeared. Both union membership and organizing rate in the developed countries drop down constantly and collective bargaining is replaced by individual contract. On the other side, unionists in the developing countries are severely intimidated or even killed (like in the Philippines).  
But trade union is not waiting to be slaughtered without noise. In the recent years, labour struggling, emergence of new trade unions and international solidarity have warmed up our hearts. Their new strategies in organizing and online organizing and labour education have impressed and surprised the world. The new trade union movement cares much of the underprivileged, such as cleaning workers, domestic helpers and migrant workers, etc. They have actively developed solidarity in community and promoted the “community unionism” to enhance the trade union development. 
In Hong Kong, the trade union organizing rate is not bad. Both union membership and the organizing rate, despite of over-statement, are increasing too. Now the organizing rate has reached 25%, much than that in France (10%). But we should be humble because there is a long way to go for powerful organizing in individual enterprises and industries.
Table 5: The Trade Union Organizing Rate in Hong Kong 







Source: Registry of Trade Unions, Annual Statistical of Trade Unions in Hong Kong 2018 (HK: Labour Department, 2019). The data are re-arranged by the author.
The organizing rate is relatively higher in the construction industry, the transport industry and civil servants. A reason is high participation of self-employed sub-contractors, like construction workers, taxi/vehicle drivers. According to the government statistics (workers only), the organizing rate is 25% in construction and 38.8% in transport. Since a civil servant is allowed to join more than one trade union, the total membership is higher than the number of total civil servants. In the manufacturing industry, since trade unions do not cancel the membership of the workers who have died or left the industry, the membership of trade unions in the industry does not drop rapidly in spite of big drop of workers in the industry. 
The organizing rate is usually under 10% in the hotel, information, finance, real estate and technology sectors. The data shows a long way ahead for the trade union movement in Hong Kong, especially the independent trade union movement. The movement should not be a fast fashion. It may suddenly be gone like a bubble. We should balance the three main concerns of workers, labour policies, labour disputes and workers’ welfare.
3. Capital ignores country boundaries. It should also apply to the labour movement. Cross-country industrial actions and the mutual support of trade unions in the world facilitate the birth of the international trade unions. The Trade Unions Ordinance limits the participation of Hong Kong’s trade unions in such international institutions, particularly international political institutions. The participation of local trade unions must be passed by the general meeting of trade unions and be approved by the Registry of Trade Unions or the Chief Executive. Now around 50 trade unions in Hong Kong have joined in the international trade unions, such as CTU and TUC as members of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the Hong Kong Chinese Civil Servants’ Association, a member of Public Services International (PSI), Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union, a member of the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), Swire Beverages (Hong Kong) Employees General Union as a member of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF), etc. Some international trade unions have set up their Hong Kong correspondence offices in Hong Kong, such as IUF and ITF. Under the National Security Law, the contact between Hong Kong’s trade unions and foreign trade unions and labour organizations is under serious risk. 
These international institutions have made immerse contribution to the independent trade union movement in Hong Kong. They have made various ways to support Hong Kong’s labour movement. For instance, ITUC has recently publicized a report on the rights to collective bargaining and strike in Hong Kong and made comments on the recent arrest of Lee Cheuk Yan, the Secretary-General of CTU.
Hong Kong is a base of many multinational companies (including Hong Kong investment). Independent international trade unions are obligated to monitor the investment of the multinationals (including Chinese investment) in the world and their violations of the international labour standards.
4. The past labour legislation focuses on individual labour rights and discourages collective labour rights. For instance, without collective bargaining, workers need to “beg” collectively to their employers. It is difficult to gain back our dignity. Therefore, labour legislation is a big battlefield for us.
From the historical development, the birth of labour legislation and its development have undergone serious fighting by workers in many labour movements. Labour law should not be seen as a protection of workers only, but also a fruit of workers’ struggle in numerous labour movements. (end)
*The author owns the copyright of this article. It is prohibited to reprint this article without the author's permission.