Call for general strike in Hong Kong gains force - RTHK
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Call for general strike in Hong Kong gains force

2019-06-11 HKT 12:02
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  • The New World First Bus Company Staff Union says it will stage a work-to-rule on Wednesday in protest against the extradition bill. Photo: RTHK
    The New World First Bus Company Staff Union says it will stage a work-to-rule on Wednesday in protest against the extradition bill. Photo: RTHK
Calls for businesses to close and staff to stay away from work on Wednesday seem to be snowballing into concerted action, as workers' unions, businesses and welfare groups urge a citywide strike against the controversial extradition bill.

The calls have come from bus and aviation union members, teachers, the social welfare sector and the Confederation of Trade Unions, while messages have been appearing on social media urging people to take sick leave as a part of the protest.

In an online petition on Tuesday, hundreds of aviation workers urged airline employee unions to call for a formal strike.

More than 40 social welfare and religious groups also urged employers to allow workers to take leave and join a planned protest rally outside the Legco where the full council will start debating the bill on Wednesday.

Labour Party legislator Fernando Cheung, a co-organiser of the protest, said he expected 2,000 social workers would take part. But he said the groups would make sure emergency services for the needy are maintained.

The New World First Bus Company Staff Union, which has over 1,000 members, said it will stage a work-to-rule protest against the government’s refusal to scrap the proposed legal changes despite a massive demonstration last Sunday.

The move adds to hundreds of businesses, shops and NGOs who have announced they will take part in a strike on Wednesday, as lawmakers begin vetting the contentious extradition bill.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the bus union urged all members to drive at a “safe” speed, well below the speed limit, and to refrain from overtaking other vehicles.

It also urged drivers to make sure all passengers’ needs are taken care of and there are no obstructions to the bus aisles, before leaving each stop.

A union at rival bus company, KMB, shared the message on its Facebook page, but did not specify if it is also planning such a move.

Meanwhile, office bearers of Pen Hong Kong, a group of writers in the city, said they will be starting a 24-hour hunger strike from 8pm on Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of the Executive Council meeting, Chief Executive Carrie Lam had warned against such action, saying people should consider whether it would do society any good.

Speaking after taking part in a radio programme, Labour Party lawmaker Fernando Cheung conceded that industrial action isn't constructive to society, but said it can send a loud and clear message to the government.

“What’s at stake is much more than what we would stand to lose, even if we were to strike. This should be an alarming reminder to the government that they should hold off on pushing forward the fugitive bill which we think would be much more harmful to Hong Kong”, Cheung said.

Liberal Party leader Felix Chung, meanwhile, questioned the wisdom of businesses shutting up shop.

“I don’t think it will work, that the harm will be done to themselves because they lost a day of business. Will that affect the decisions of the government? I don’t think so at all”, he said.

He said his party supports the government's extradition bill now because concessions granted by officials have minimised any negative impact on the business sector.

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Last updated: 2019-06-11 HKT 13:23