For the first time ever on this year’s Labour Day, May 1, Socialist Action together with the Refugee Union, Indonesian migrant organisation Kobumi and others, will hold our own demonstration.
Socialist Action reporters
We will gather in Chater Garden at 11 am and march to the government offices.
The themes of our demonstration are struggle and international solidarity, for the unity of working people regardless of ethnicity or religion. For equal rights for migrants and locals, men and women. For refugees to be treated with dignity and allowed to work. Later we will join up with the larger Confederation of Trade Unions demonstration from Victoria Park, taking our message of struggle with us.
May 1 is the day of the international working class, tracing its roots to the workers’ struggle for an 8-hour working day in the US. The first ever May 1 protests were in 1886, with a general strike across many cities of America, around the slogan “eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will.”
Incredibly, 130 years later this demand has yet to be won in many parts of the world including Hong Kong. For domestic workers this is a vital question – with a working day of 14, 15, 16 hours not out of the ordinary. Also for local workers, the capitalist establishment and government, buttressed by the veto power of the undemocratic ‘functional constituencies’ in Legco, stubbornly resists any moves towards standard working hours and an eight-hour day.
Hong Kong has the longest working hours in the world according to a survey in 71 cities by Swiss bank UBS. It found the average working week is more than 50 hours and holidays are also well below the global average of 23 days a year. “Our May Day demonstration will revive the pioneer spirit of the labour movement’s founders to unite workers of all races in struggle,” says Sally Tang Mei-ching of Socialist Action. “Local workers and migrants face need to fight together to win anything from this government of the tycoons. Our demo will unify different groups in calling for standard working hours of eight hours per day for all including migrant workers,” she said.
“The same applies to refugees who should be able to work, to support their families, instead of being excluded and criminalised by the government. We call for refugees to get the same rights to join a union, get equal pay and legal protection for their work,” said Sally.
The demonstration will also feature the struggle of workers and immigrants in the US, who will in many cities and workplaces take strike action against Donald Trump’s billionaire government. Anti-Trump Hong Kong hopes to mobilise youth and students to join the demonstration in Chater Gardens.