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A strike in the time of COVID-19 pandemic: the 2020 health workers’ dispute in Hong Kong

Taylor, Bill W.K. and Chan, Ming Yui Issac (2022) A strike in the time of COVID-19 pandemic: the 2020 health workers’ dispute in Hong Kong. Journal of Industrial Relations, 64 (5). 711 - 733. ISSN 0022-1856

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Identification Number: 10.1177/00221856221114449


A short health workers’ strike held in early 2020 in Hong Kong at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrates the importance of democratic framing of social movement unionism. A trade union was established during a period of massive civil unrest against the local government in 2019 and then proceeded to organise a strike within 2 months of formation to pressure both their employer and the government to enhance citizen and health workers’ safety as the pandemic entered Hong Kong. The paper explains the organisation, progress and reaction to the strike by different stakeholders. The case exemplifies mobilisation through strong democratic trade unionism and provides an example of social movement framing that combined membership and societal interests. The strike represents the last instance of successful independent union mobilisation in Hong Kong as governance shifted from laisse-faire industrial relations that favoured the local capitalist elite to state authoritarianism focussed on obedience to the national political elite.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 Australian Labour and Employment Relations Association (ALERA)
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2022 10:30
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2024 05:18

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