Socialist Worker

First general strike in half a century deepens the revolt in Hong Kong

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2666

A sign in a Hong Kong coffee shop advises customers that it will be closed for a general strike

A sign in a Hong Kong coffee shop advises customers that it will be closed for a general strike (Pic: Elizabeth Law/Twitter)


Demonstrators are trying to “foment revolution” in Hong Kong according to the city’s leader Carrie Lam.

Protesters took part in mass protests and road blocks in several parts of Hong Kong on Monday, the fourth consecutive day of big demonstrations.

It was also the day of a general strike—the first in Hong Kong in half a century.

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions estimates that 350,000 workers joined the strike.

The Metro system came to a standstill as protesters “enforced” the strike by blocking train doors.

A poster advertising the general strike in Hong Kong on Monday of this week

A poster advertising the general strike in Hong Kong on Monday of this week


Workers in the civil service, advertising, finance, construction and retail joined the action. Several said they organised on the messaging app Telegram.

The Washington Post newspaper reported, “Even the happiest place on Earth was not immune. Dozens of workers at Hong Kong Disneyland went on strike, disrupting rides.”

Disneyland worker Alice Tam told the newspaper that workers “have a responsibility to do this”.

Over 200 flights were cancelled as air traffic controllers called in sick.

Infrastructure

Ken Kwok, an operations worker at Hong Kong Airlines, said 400 workers at his airline joined it. He said it would have an impact because “the airport is the most important piece of infrastructure to the government”.

The strike defied government repression. Dozens of people who had called for it were arrested overnight last Sunday. And many strikers risked the sack or other punishments from their bosses.

The strike also took place despite opposition from some official unions. The pro-government Hong Kong Federation of Railway Trade Unions last week urged its members not to walk out.

The action follows over two months of mass protests against a new law that would allow the extradition of suspects to mainland China.

This would allow it to target political opponents in Hong Kong.

The movement against the law has grown into a bigger fight. Demonstrators now demand more democracy, an inquiry into policing, an amnesty for all arrested protesters and the resignation of Lam.

Protesters have also faced attacks from groups of masked men, while on Monday two cars rammed into demonstrators.

But the movement has refused to be silenced—and is showing the power that ordinary people have when they fight back together.


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