Rally set for Central to protest Cathay staff dismissals

August 28, 2019 16:13
HKCTU chairwoman Carol Ng speaks to the media on Tuesday to outline the trade unions’ plan for a rally to denounce Cathay Pacific after the carrier sacked some staff over their involvement in the HK protests. Photo: RTHK

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) plans to hold a rally Wednesday evening to voice its discontent over the recent staff dismissals at Cathay Pacific Airways that came in the wake of the anti-government protests in the city.

number of airline workers are expected to attend the gathering which will denounce Cathay for bowing to Beijing's pressure and cracking down on employees who had backed, or participated in, the Hong Kong protests.

The Hong Kong flag-carrier will be urged to retract its decisions and take back the dismissed staff.

HKCTU chairwoman Carol Ng Man-yee on Tuesday told media that the rally would be held at Edinburgh Square in Central from 4 pm to 7 pm after a letter of no objection was received from the police.

Ng revealed that the HKCTU had originally sought to stage the rally at Cathay City, the headquarters of Cathay Pacific located near the Hong Kong airport, but the police had rejected the application.

HKCTU filed an appeal to have the decision overturned, but was unsuccessful in the attempt.

The Appeal Board on Public Meetings and Processions, according to Ng, backed the police decision, saying a rally near the airport might pose serious threat to participants and public order.

The board was said to have cited a series of post-rally incidents that took place in the city recently to justify its decision to reject the HKCTU appeal.

According to Ng, a representative from Cathay told the board in the meeting that the carrier is worried that the rally could affect the company’s operations.

Also, it stressed that the whole artificial island where the airport is situated should be subject to the court injunction that had earlier prohibited airport protest actions.

Despite pleas by HKCTU that it has a good track record of holding peaceful assemblies, and two-and-half hours of negotiations, the appeals board didn't accept the Cathay City protest plan.

Hence, the trade unions filed a new plan with the police to move the rally venue to Central, a proposal that the authorities approved Tuesday night.

Expressing regret and disappointment over the rejection of the original plan, Ng criticized the police, saying their ban amounted to depriving workers of the right to fight for their interests.

The police were siding with the Cathay management, ignoring the rights of airline workers, Ng suggested.

In a media statement on Wednesday, Cathay warned that the planned event at its headquarters would be illegal, reiterating that “there is a zero-tolerance approach to any support for or participation in illegal protests, violent activities or overly radical behaviour.”

Last Friday, the HKCTU called a news conference after the sudden dismissal of Rebecca Sy, the head of Cathay Dragon's Flight Attendants’ Association.

Sy, who has been with Cathay for 17 years, said she was fired after managers saw and confirmed her Facebook account where she had posted some messages.

Calling Sy’s dismissal a “blatant act of suppression”, HKCTU demanded that she be reinstated immediately.

According to the trade union confederation, Cathay has fired 20 people so far in connection with Hong Kong’s ongoing anti-government protests.

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