Occupy Central

From students to company bosses, Hongkongers show support for Occupy Central

Workers - and even some bosses - say strikes and protests must continue because police use of tear gas on students went a step too far

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 September, 2014, 4:06am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 June, 2018, 5:53pm

Social workers, delivery men, teachers - Hongkongers from all walks of life left their jobs yesterday to support the Occupy Central movement and protest against the police force's use of tear gas during Sunday's demonstrations.

Secondary school and university students also boycotted classes and either joined protesters on the streets or staged assemblies on campuses.

"I could not believe that the police used tear gas against student protesters," said social worker Simon Lai, who joined an assembly at Polytechnic University attended by more than 1,000 of his colleagues. "The students were not armed. There were tens of thousands of them yesterday and the tear gas could have led to a stampede."

The assembly's organiser, the Confederation of Trade Unions, said many social workers would remain on strike until the Occupy movement ends.

At the government headquarters yesterday, Don Chan Hing-lung, chairman of the Swire Beverages (HK) Employees General Union, told cheering protesters that 200 delivery workers at a Coca-Cola plant in Sha Tin had gone on strike to support the civil disobedience movement.

"We don't care if we lose money. We are here for the future. If we don't come, there won't be one," Chan said. Another 100 workers, he said, worked the minimum number of hours required by their contract.

Chan said the workers would continue their strike today.

Some bosses also lent their support to workers who joined the protest. "It's up to you whether you come to work of not. The company will not punish anyone who supports something more important than work," Spencer Wong, chief executive of advertising company McCann Worldgroup Hong Kong, said in a message to his staff.

Pupils and teachers from at least 31 secondary schools walked out of classes yesterday, according to student group Scholarism and the Professional Teachers' Union (PTU), the largest association of teachers in Hong Kong, which called on educators to join the strike.

The move was not supported by all school officials. The Education Bureau said it "deeply regrets" the union's call for a strike. It asked teachers not to disrupt students' studies.

The bureau ordered all schools in Wan Chai and Central and Western districts to cancel classes yesterday. Major roads there were clogged with protesters and metal barriers. Those schools will remain closed today.

PTU president Fung Wai-wah said he supported a strike. "We're talking about what's right and wrong," he said. "It's important to let students discuss and express their feelings. Teachers cannot escape from this."

Pupils at some of the 31 secondary schools affected chose to occupy school playgrounds; others gathered in assembly halls to share their views on the protests and the reactions to them.

Liu Cheuk-laam, a Form Six student from SFTA Lee Shau Kee College, was sprayed with tear gas in Admiralty on Sunday night. "Hong Kong is in a totally different situation now after the tear gas," he said. "All students should stand up and say no to police violence."

More than 400 of his schoolmates - almost half the school's roll - occupied the playground of the Kwai Ching school.

Meanwhile, university students held meetings to discuss how to organise a fresh round of class boycotts.

Chinese University students decided to strike indefinitely.

A group of students from three law schools issued a joint statement, condemning police for using "grossly excessive force".

Way Kuo, president of City University, said he "appreciated" students' peaceful expression of their views and that he "deeply" regrets Sunday's confrontations "because they are neither constructive nor helpful".