Hong Kong trade union calls strikes to force complete closure of border with China

In a move that could worsen the epidemic, hundreds of hospital workers in Hong Kong have gone on strike, demanding the border with mainland China be completely closed to reduce the risk of the coronavirus spreading. Closing the border completely would go against advice from the World Health Organization.

Hundreds of “non-essential” medical workers went on strike on Monday, after the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance called for action. The union said frontline workers – including doctors and nurses – would follow on Tuesday if their demands were not met. It is unclear what they mean by “non-essential”, it is evidenced by scientific communities that some of the most important personnel in the coronavirus war are the team of cleaners who are ensuring sanitisation and hygiene.

Closure of borders would spell trouble for Hong Kong. Especially at a time when Hong Kong is still engaged in a politically charged confrontation with its domestic politicians over China. This strike could be easily understood as an act of aggression/defiance against the mainland.

“Travel restrictions can cause more harm than good by hindering info-sharing, medical supply chains and harming economies,” the head of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Friday. Sadly, this is what the Hong Kong trade union is asking for.

Their acts could lead to great difficulties for Hong Kong’s government. The SAR government needs a lot of assistance from its powerful hinterland. Should an outbreak take place, it would lose the very help and logistical resources it desperately needs. In short, the conflict between trade union and government is going to harm its citizens more. 

The relationship between trade unions, government and the people is a relationship that needs to be carefully managed. Each has their own important agenda and their own group of people to fight for, however they collectively have to be concerned about the nation’s greater good.

Singapore’s tripartite relationship gives rise to trust between businessmen, the government and the trade unions. This trust did not come about easily, but could be dismantled very quickly. It is through this trust that associations and trade unions manage to push out programs, advisories and assistance to industries which need it most.

Some of the more notable events in Singapore include: 

The focus for Singaporean tripartite partners, is to work together to prevent the disease from taking hold in Singapore and to deploy assistance where needed, swiftly. Political, partisan and idealistic interests will take a back seat and not even considered in this time of need.

This is the Singaporean way of doing things – but it is not one that other countries can easily implement. Think about that.

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