Salute to Mr Chair, artist and activist

December 22, 2016 13:50
Luke Ching (inset) took a security guard job as part of his campaign. He is claiming victory after convincing some companies, including Wellcome, to provide chairs to certain workers. Photos: HKEJ,

Artist Luke Ching is a man of chairs.

He does not make or draw chairs but he is the savior of half a million workers who stand at their posts for hours.

Ching started a chair revolution nine years ago in which he urged employers to provide a chair to workers such as security guards, toilet cleaners and cashiers.

He said a chair does not take away a single cent of corporate profitability but provides a great deal of comfort for workers.

His latest win came with Wellcome supermarket, which promised to try out a pilot program to provide chairs to its cashiers in selected shops, with the aim of extending the scheme to all shops.

"We made progress," proclaimed Ching, who started a campaign on Facebook last month by pleading to "please give a chair to security officers". [Go to video]

It is also a big win for the supermarket group, whose parent, Dairy Farm Group, employs more than 1,400 cashiers in Hong Kong and churned out US$400 million in profits in 2015.

Last month, Ching embarked on a field trip to more than 20 supermarkets before officially making a request to two supermarket giants.

Park'n Shop listened and immediately responded.

His next target is AS Watson which provides chairs for its pharmacists but not its cashiers.

Last month, Ching also won a victory for cashiers of a certain fast food chain in Tai Po after successfully fighting for chairs for security guards in Legco in October.

As the largest employer in Hong Kong, the government should set an example as a good employer, Ching says.

Ching, who specialized in sculpture, has a soft heart for blue collar workers.

To make the case for them, he took a security guard job in government museums nine years ago, including a one-month stint in Railway Museum in Tai Po.

His real-life experience led the Hong Kong Museum of Art to offer a seat to its security guards.

Guards were barred from sitting after some fell asleep at work but after Ching's efforts, employers compromised and offered bar chairs, which would allow guards to rest but not to be comfortable enough to sleep.

“Having a chair does not mean they would sit, but only offer a choice for them when they need it,” Ching says. “A chair means dignity.”

One does not need to be a politician to successfully make their cases heard.

Ching perfectly demonstrates how a normal person can stand up for people who are entitled to sit.

-- Contact us at [email protected]


EJ Insight writer