Carol Ng is the Chairperson of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), Hong Kong
Where are you working at the moment?
At home (in Kowloon, Hong Kong).
Has your work been strongly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic?
Yes – mostly because our meeting facilities, such as meeting rooms, need to be closed and we can’t allow any visitors.
Please tell us more?
We used to have many affiliates and union reps come over to our offices for meetings and discussions, we met with organisers very often. Now we are not able to do face-to-face contact. Some branches also used to meet members here, but the organising work became harder to perform.
How have you managed these changes?
We use video meeting platforms a lot. But they are not 100% safe, we believe.
What are the specific challenges?
Our staff need to work from home. If anyone does go back to the office they must wear face masks at all times, their temperature must be measured, we must provide hand sanitizer, and we must ask our cleaning colleagues to sterilise the office twice a day.
Does this change the way you operate and plan, and how? What are you doing differently?
We have vocational training centres in other districts and we have had to suspend courses. We can only do some lecture training via on-line methods. Organising and registration assistance for some of the new unions needs to be on hold.
Can you give us some examples of positive aspects of your work at the moment? Are there good things that have happened?
More colleagues and committee members have become familiar with new IT applications and software. Many reps would rather make phone calls, which is proving efficient. Different unions are willing to exchange information more than before, to see if their members are suffering from any ill treatment in terms of their employment.
What advice and support do you have for others?
I think this pandemic is changing the future plans of our world. It is good to learn something new to benefit our work and interpersonal relationships. As regards working from home, I do think creating a certain kind of time discipline is helpful.