Hong Kong medical workers’ union sets up fund to support striking employees in the face of possible punishment

, by CHUNG Kimmy

Union treasurer Cheung Ka-kei says fund is ‘to compensate for the financial loss of the employees who may face termination, job suspension, or retaliation’.
Carol Ng Man-yee, chairwoman of the Confederation of Trade Unions, says fund will also apply to other unions considering a strike.

A fund has been set up by the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance to support its striking members if they are penalised, as the authorities on Saturday 8 did not rule out penalties but reiterated that all cases would be handled according to established procedures.

The union on Friday 7 ended its five-day industrial action demanding better protection against the deadly new coronavirus and the full closure of the city’s border with mainland China, after its members voted down the plan to extend the strike.
It has asked the Hospital Authority not to impose penalties on the strikers, but the management has not made any promise.
On Saturday 8, the union announced setting up a fund, calling for public donation to support the striking medical workers.
“The fund is to compensate for the financial loss of the employees who may face termination, job suspension, or retaliation because of joining strikes and protests,” Cheung Ka-kei, the treasurer of the union, said.
He said some online forums had urged the public to report if they knew any medical worker who took part in the strike.
“We will be in touch with the authority to know what actions they are planning to take,” he said.

Carol Ng Man-yee, chairwoman of the Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), said the fund would also apply to other unions, including various flight attendants’ associations which were considering launching a strike in the face of the outbreak.

Two other medical associations – the Hong Kong Public Doctors’ Association and the Frontline Doctors’ Union – also issued a statement supporting the striking union and urging the management to respect their colleagues’ rights to join a strike.
“If any colleague is meted out any unreasonable treatment, we will respond in unity and provide relevant legal and other support,” they warned.

Earlier in the day, Deacons Yeung Tai-kong, a senior executive of the Hospital Authority, said it would handle all cases following the established procedures, when he was asked whether workers who had taken part in the strike would be penalised.
“We will view every case as our colleagues may have different explanations on why they were absent from duty,” Yeung said on a radio programme.
After the programme, Yeung told reporters that the priority was to strengthen the response to the outbreak. “The first thing we need to do is to bring back all our staff together and be united in taking care of our patients. This is of utmost importance,” Yeung said.

[1] https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/3049512/hong-kong-medical-workers-strike-goes-level