Furious warning to civil servants in strike referendum

Top News | Michael Shum and Erin Chan 15 Jun 2020

The administration will not turn a blind eye to civil servants joining a strike referendum against the national security law, warns Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung.

The referendum being organized by various unions to vote on whether to organize a strike and class boycott against the security law being imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong was to have been held yesterday but was postponed until Saturday due to the tropical cyclone.

Cheung said on his blog it was "infuriating" and "regrettable" to see a grouping of civil servants calling on members to participate in the referendum.

"The government will not sit idly by for acts that blatantly damage the interest of society and the reputation of the civil service," he said.

He called on civil servants to "tell fact from fiction and remain rational" to live up to the expectations of the general public.

"As the backbone of the government, civil servants are responsible for safeguarding the security of Hong Kong as well as the country," he added.

Cheung also urged students not to participate in the referendum to avoid being used for political leverage.

"Teachers and parents should always remind and guide their children to learn right from wrong and the rule of law as well as the concept that 'a country comes before a home,' " he said.

Cheung added: "As the pandemic has slightly eased, many countries have shifted their focus to the restoration of economic development.

"The government is no exception and is committed to ensuring employment, creating jobs, supporting the economy and alleviating hardships of the people."

Cheung's comments came after condemnation from Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office and the Central Government's Liaison Office in Hong Kong.

But organizers of the referendum said they do not intend to call off the action.

The executive officer of the Hong Kong Federation of Civil Service Unions, Leung Chau-ting, said the administration was responsible for giving away the details of the national security law in the first place.

"It is not that we are against the law for no reason," he said.

"It is just that we don't have an in-depth understanding of the law, and as a result there are worries over it."

Leung said the federation did not appeal to members to join the referendum on the strike as it is a political activity.

The unofficial referendum is expected to involve 23 unions representing 20 sectors, including hospitality, information technology, transport, aviation, catering, accounting, health care and the civil service.

Workers will be voting on whether they oppose the security law and whether they will authorize unions to launch industrial action or strike action against it.

The unions expect 60,000 people to join the referendum, which needs at least 60 percent of votes for motions to pass.

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