Here are the readings we are doing this week in preparation for the Hong Kong dockworkers’ visit to Seattle:
See reading group FB invite here
When the Hong Kong dock workers went on a historic 40 day strike last May, they used the slogan, “All On the Same Ocean” (see video below) to describe their struggle.
They were striking against Li Ka Shing, the owner of Huchinson Whampoa, and the richest man in Asia. Li Ka Shing is also heavily invested in the Alberta Tar Sands extraction and the Keystone pipeline, contributing to the destruction of the planet’s climate and the further colonization of indigenous/ First Nations territories on this continent.
The Chinese capitalists are part of a global alliance of international ruling classes. Their business interests dovetail with those of US corporations, from Walmart to Amazon.com. This global capitalist empire exploits low-wage workers in factories across Asia; it also aims to reduce living standards for exploited and marginalized people here in the U.S. and around the world, through austerity programs and increased state repression.
Instead of uniting with workers across the Pacific to fight this common enemy, the US mainstream labor and environmental movements have often been stuck in old divisions. (see this article: http://www.unionbook.org/profiles/blogs/afl-cio-hosts-anti-chinese-yellow-peril-movie)
Slogans like “the Chinese are stealing our jobs,” to “the US is getting more polluted to help develop China”, cover up the fact that many Chinese workers are not benefiting from these developments. In fact, they are fighting back against their own exploitation and the pollution of the air we all breathe. They should be our allies, not our enemies.
Hong Kong dock workers who recently went on strike in May 2013 to form their union, the Hong Kong Dock Workers Union, will be coming to visit Seattle in the beginning of April. Their visit offers us an opportunity to challenge nationalist, divide and conquer divisions, and to build global networks of class struggle/ social liberation.
To prepare, we are starting a reading group aimed at bringing together folks, especially people of Asian descent and local workers interested in building solidarity with Chinese workers. Hopefully our conversations and discussions can be the beginnings of a grassroots formation that builds with Chinese activists abroad while also addressing local issues.
Below is the reading list. The links are active here:
Pieces will be summarized at the beginning of the session. The aim is to build a supportive group culture that can build off each other’s strengths and support with reading and understanding.
Please email for access to articles at firstname.lastname@example.org
Look forward to learning together!
In preparation for the upcoming visit by Hong Kong port workers in April, some of us in Seattle are gathering to do some reading and discuss the significance of Chinese labor struggle to local politics. Please email for access to articles at email@example.com
If you are interested in joining, let us know!
Looking forward to learning together!
Week 1: Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta
(A) News articles about the Hong Kong Dock Workers strike and beyond：
(B) Factory Towns of South China: An Illustrated Guidebook. Edited by Stefan Al (Excerpts) *please email
(C) Signs of New Hope: Resistance in China by Au Loong Yu & Bai Ruixue
Week 2: Labor structures and organizations:
Week 3: Gender and class formation
Gender and the South China Miracle by Ching Kwan Lee (Chapters 6, 7,8) *please email
Week 4: China & the US
America’s Head Servant by Hung Ho Fung
Walmart in China by Anita Chan *please email
Week 5: The Global Supply Chain
Forgotten Spaces (Film)
Reposting from CWI-affiliated Socialistworld.net
Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI supporters in Hong Kong)
Hong Kong dockers have been engaged in a determined struggle against a super-rich tycoon for more than five weeks now. (See “Hong Kong: Dockworkers strike lays bare class divisions“) This article, carried on Chinaworker web-site, gives the background to dock-owner Li Ka shing’s vast international business empire.
In Hong Kong it is the tycoons like Li Ka-shing that rule. The inspiring month-long port strike has illuminated this fact clearly, opening the eyes of more and more people. Six tycoon-owned conglomerates dominate Hong Kong’s economy, swallowing at least 23 cents in every dollar spent, including 90 percent of its supermarket sales and two-thirds of its private housing market according to the Wall Street Journal. These business empires stretch across all sectors – you cannot take a bus ride, shop in a mall, make a phone call, stay in a hotel, watch a movie, or light up your home, never mind buy an apartment, without making these tycoon families even wealthier. This is where the term ‘property hegemony’ comes from, given that these tycoon clans between them control the property market including commercial rent levels, which turns small businesses into slaves of the tycoons.
At the apex of this power structure is Li Ka-shing, the world’s eighth richest man, with a personal fortune valued at US$31 billion (HK$241 billion) according to Forbes magazine. He owns companies that make up 15 percent of the stock market (measured by the total value of shares). Last year, Li and Hong Kong’s other billionaires did very well. Li’s fortune rose by US$8 billion (HK$62 billion).
To put this into perspective, the increase in Li Ka-shing’s wealth over the past 12 months is almost enough money to finance Hong Kong’s education budget for a year (HK$63 billion) and almost equals what the Hong Kong government made from land sales last year (HK$69 billion). Other tycoons also did well, if not quite as well as Li. Henderson chief Lee Shau-kee increased his personal worth by HK$23 billion last year, to HK155 billion. Serious corruption charges and a family feud did not stop the Kwok brothers increasing their wealth by HK$31 billion last year (source: Forbes list).
For Hong Kong’s masses it is a different story. The wealth gap is now the most extreme in any developed economy. Poverty has become “endemic” in the city according to the Hong Kong Council for Social Services (HKCSS). For the first time there are over 300,000 elderly people living below the poverty line – the number is 305,000. According to economist Andy Xie, Hong Kong’s average wages have only risen 1.5 percent per year in the past decade, below the rate of inflation.
See more here
To read the Union of Hong Kong Dock Workers update, see here
To donate to the expanding strike, see here
Listen to the interview with strike organizer here
Striking dockers say much of the operations at the Kwai Chung container have been paralysed after dozens more workers joined the month-long strike there. Around 80 workers for contractor Comcheung walked out this morning.
A representative of the group has joined a fifth round of negotiations over the pay disupte. Unionist leader Stanley Ho says the swelling numbers of strikers, now above 500, has put more pressure on port operator, Hongkong International Terminals.
Supporting Hong Kong Dockers’ Strike:
Global Conscience Pledge to Boycott all Li Ka Shing’s Products
1995至今，香港通帳累積高達28.5%，但香港國際碼頭（Hong Kong International Terminals, HIT）的工人月薪竟然低於18年前的水平。每當香港面臨經濟危機 HIT每每要求工人共渡時艱，單方面要求員工減薪，但經濟好轉時，HIT 卻拒絕與工人分享利潤。2013年3月28日，工人終於在忍無可忍的情況下發起罷工行動。罷工以來， HIT拒絕承認責任，直指工人乃外判公司之員工，HIT在追求利益最大化同時，也將責任轉嫁給外判商，懶理這些外判商侵害勞工權利的種種問題。作為李嘉誠全球王國下的消費者，我們強烈譴責HIT及其大老闆、亞洲首富李嘉誠罔顧企業社會責任，並願意以消費者力量，罷買李嘉誠商品，與香港HIT碼頭罷工工人並肩抗爭。
Since 1995, Hong Kong’s inflation has risen cumulatively to 28.5%, but the wages of the dockers at Hong Kong International Terminals (HIT) is surprisingly lower than the level 18 years ago. Every time Hong Kong faces an economic downturn, HIT asks for a pay cut to weather the difficult time through; whereas when there is a profit, HIT shamelessly refuses to share the profit with its dedicated employees. On 28th March 2013, the dockers no longer tolerate HIT’s greed and go on strike. During the strike, HIT shed its responsibility to its sub-contractors, claiming that those dockers were only the employees of the sub-contractors. Having only profits in mind, HIT also shifted its responsibilities to its workers, leaving them to merciless exploitation and inhumane working conditions. As the consumers of much of Li Ka-shing’s global enterprises, we strongly condemn HIT and its head, also the richest man in Asia, Li Ka-shing, ignoring corporate social responsibility. We pledge make use of the power of consumers, boycott Li Ka-shing’s products and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the dockers at strike!
The Evilness of Sub-contracting – Exploitation under the name of Efficiency
In the past 20 years, both public and private organizations in Hong Kong have gone through the tide of sub-contracting its services, intending to exploit every drop of manpower from the workers for money. Powerless as they are, the grassroots workers have no choice but to shut up and work. All their effort, nonetheless, do not earn the respect from their employers – their salaries fell and the amount of work has yet been endlessly mounting still! Silence has only proved to make the contemptible deeds of exploitation unrestrained and therefore dockers are here to fight back. This campaign aims not only to target against HIT, but also to ignite the resistance to the system of sub-contracting. It is of great significance that our success in the strike adds fuel to the battle against the sub-contracting!
Strike! Boycott! – Say No to Hegemony!
This strike also reveals an inconvenient truth – the exploitation of the dockers lay roots also to the hegemony of Li’s enterprises. Li has unimaginable control over Hong Kong’s docks, in addition to his oligarchic ownership in many other aspects of daily consumption. It includes Cheung Kong Holdings, Hong Kong Electric, Harbour Plaza Hotel, Parknshop, Taste, Fortress, Watson, and Hutchison Telecommunications. Forced is every single one of us to be the consumers of his enterprises. Li, as the top of the four giant property developers, has devoted himself into the game of monopoly and speculation. His selfish act has pushed up Hong Kong’s property prices to the top of the world, that is why anti-hegemony has become the number-one agendum of Hong Kong’s social movements in recent years. The strike has clearly reminded us that we are all the victims of the hegemony. Together we must stand together to wrestle against these giants.
Now that the strike has expanded, the Union of Hong Kong Dockers is needing to fundraise more for the strike fund.
Please contribute HERE! Thank You!
Today more than 100 on-shore and on-board checkers join the strike. They are employed by Comcheung Human Resources Ltd which by now has one-third of its employees working in the terminals putting down their tools. The checkers of Comcheung complained that they were made to work 24- and 48-hour shifts to clear the piled-up cargos since the strike has broken out on 28 March. They were also promised to have their wages increased by 20% in two years. That was later reduced to 5% in 2013, believably to be the bottom line of “5+2%” held by HIT and Hutchison. Unable to secure further commitment from Comcheung about the effective date and the scale of the pay rise, more than 100 checkers joined the picket line this morning.
The fourth round of negotiation will re-convene today. Union of Hong Kong Dockers (UHKD) is asking the Labour Department to extend the negotiation to include Everbest and Comcheung as most of their employees are now on strike. The union’s bargaining power is strengthened as by now 550 dock workers are on strike for the 36th day.
More than 5000 people joined the May Day demonstration yesterday which is record-high in recent years in HK, thanks mainly to the community-wide support to the dockers’ strike. The local support group is also preparing a call for global action to boycott Hutchison’s products and retail services.