Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions

The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions[3] (HKFTU) is a pro-Beijing labour and political group established in 1948 in Hong Kong. It is the largest labour group in Hong Kong with over 410,000 members in 251 affiliates and associated trade unions.[1] Presided by Ng Chau-pei and chaired by Kingsley Wong, it currently commands five seats in the Legislative Council of Hong Kong and 5 District Councillors.

Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions

PresidentNg Chau-pei
ChairmanKingsley Wong
Secretary-GeneralMa Kwong-yu
Founded17 April 1948; 72 years ago (1948-04-17)
Headquarters12 Ma Hang Chung
Road, Tokwawan,
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Membership (2014)Increase Over 410,000[1]
IdeologyChinese socialism
Chinese nationalism
Conservatism (HK)[2]
Political positionLeft-wing to Far left
Regional affiliationPro-Beijing camp
Colours  Red
Slogan"Patriotism, Solidarity,
Rights, Welfare
and Participation"
Executive Council
1 / 33
Legislative Council
4 / 70
District Councils
5 / 479
NPC (HK deputies)
2 / 36
CPPCC (HK members)
2 / 124
Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions
Traditional Chinese香港工會聯合會
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese工聯會

Being one of the oldest existing labour unions in Hong Kong, the HKFTU has a long tradition of following the command of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the ruling party of the People's Republic of China (PRC). It took a leading role in the Hong Kong 1967 Leftist riots against the British rule and was suppressed by the colonial government. In the 1980s, the HKFTU took the vanguard role in opposing faster democratisation in Hong Kong with the conservative business elites during the run up to the Chinese resumption of Hong Kong sovereignty in 1997.

The HKFTU leaders became the founding members of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB), today's largest pro-Beijing party, in 1992. Since the late 2000s and early 2010s, the HKFTU resumed its independent banner in the elections with a more pro-grassroots and pro-labour platform, distant from the DAB's pro-middle-class and professionals outlook.


The main slogans of the HKFTU are "patriotism, solidarity, rights, welfare and participation". The group focuses on the rights and welfare of workers, supporting the workers in their negotiation with employers and to resolve labour disputes. It works to amend legislation to protect labour rights and prevent employers from exploiting loopholes in labour laws. It opposes importation of foreign labours and calls for legislation against age discrimination.

Politically it espouses a strong sentiment of Chinese nationalism. It supports the governments of the People's Republic of China and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.[4] It allied with the Hong Kong government on many issues but has a pro-grassroots stance on livelihood and labour issues, such as demanding more measures to reduce unemployment. Due to its government loyalist nature, industrial militancy has been remarkably absent from the HKFTU's action programme.[4]

In addition, the HKFTU also operates 5 retail outlets to provide discounts to its members in a variety of goods, and provide training, medical and other services to members at discounted rates. It also extends to include catering, travel agencies services and credit card facilities.[5]


Early yearsEdit

The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, then known as the Hong Kong and Kowloon Federation of Trade Unions, was formed by the pro-Communist trade unionists in 1948, at the same time as its rival, pro-Nationalist Hong Kong and Kowloon Trades Union Council (TUC), was set up in the midst of the Chinese Civil War between the Communists and Nationalists in Mainland China. It was registered as non-union "friendly societies" under the Societies Ordinance in order to avoid the restrictive provision in the newly introduced Trade Union Registration Ordinance of 1948.[6] During the 1950s and 60s, the HKFTU functioned as industrially based "friendly societies" or craft-based fraternities and provided benefits and other supplementary aids to the veteran members who was under the threats of unemployment and low pay.[5] It contested with the TUC in industries, trades, and workplaces under the "left-right" ideological divide in that period.[7]

The relations between the HKFTU and the colonial government remained tense. The union activities were under strict restriction from the government. Inspired by the Cultural Revolution, the HKFTU escalated labour disputes into the anti-colonial government riots in 1967. Many labour activists and HKFTU cadres were imprisoned and deported. Due to its violence and bomb attacking campaign, the HKFTU suffered serious setbacks in both public esteem and official tolerance.[8] During the riots the HKFTU also boycotted participation in any officially appointed consultative bodies by the colonial government until Beijing's Communist government adopted the economic reform in the late 1970s.[9]

Transition to 1997Edit

In the background of the 1980s shifts of the political economy in the Mainland China and the negotiations on Hong Kong's political status after 1997, the HKFU readjusted its policy toward the colonial government. The democratic reform introduced by the government also opened an access to political power for the trade unions. In first ever Legislative Council election in 1985, representatives from the HKFTU, Tam Yiu-chung, and the TUC were elected uncontestedly to the two newly created seats in the Labour functional constituency. Tam Yiu-chung continued to serve as the member of the Legislative Council until was succeeded by Cheng Yiu-tong in 1995.

On the other hand, as the most massive grassroots organ of the pro-Beijing bloc the HKFTU also assumed a vanguard role to resist the pre-1997 democratisation. It opposed to the possible direct Legislative Council election of 1988 with the slogan of "Hong Kong workers want only meal tickets but not electoral ballots."[8] However, during the Hong Kong Basic Law drafting process from 1985 to 1990, the HKFTU had to repudiate its demands on rights of union recognition and collective bargaining in the Consultative and Drafting Committees dominated by tycoons. The HKFTU's devotion to Beijing and its collaboration with the conservative business interests were challenged by some leftist unionists.[8]

In the beginning of the 1990s, the HKFTU began more involved in politics to counter to the emerging pro-democracy parties such as the United Democrats of Hong Kong (later transformed into Democratic Party) and its ally the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU). Chan Yuen-han represented for the HKFTU to run for the 1991 Legislative Council direct election but was defeated by the Lau Chin-shek, the pro-democracy labour activist representing the United Democrats of Hong Kong. In 1992, the first pro-Beijing party the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) was co-founded by the HKFTU members. HKFTU began to mobilise supporters to vote for the DAB candidates in the Legislative Council elections.

Since handoverEdit

In 1997 after the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong, the HKFTU's representatives joined the Beijing-controlled Provisional Legislative Council to roll back several pre-handover labour rights laws passed in spring 1997 by the colonial legislature controlled by the pro-democracy camp, which included the collective bargaining right under the Employee’s Rights to Representation, Consultation and Collective Bargaining Ordinance. The Provisional Legislative Council also enacted new electoral rules to disenfranchise some 800,000 blue-, gray- and white-collar workers in the nine functional constituencies created from Chris Patten's electoral reform.[8] The number of eligible voters in the Labour functional constituency was reduced from 2,001 qualified union officials in 1995 to only 361 unions on a one-vote-per-union basis for the first SAR elections in 1998.[8]

The HKFTU has been a vocal supporter of the Central and SAR governments, its then-president Cheng Yiu-tong was appointed non-official member of the Executive Council from 2002 to 2017. During the early years of the SAR administration, HKFTU members ran in direct elections under the banner of its sister organisation DAB. Since the 2008 Legislative Council elections, Chan Yuen-han and Wong Kwok-hing ran as a HKFTU member independently without DAB and carried a more grassroots and pro-labour rights agenda. In the 2011 District Council election, the HKFTU ran entirely on its own, winning 11 seats out of 20 candidates. In the 2012 Legislative Council elections, the HKFTU filled candidates in four of the five geographical constituencies and veteran Chan Yuen-han contested in the territory wide District Council (Second) constituency, becoming the fourth largest political group in the legislature.

In the 2015 District Council election, the HKFTU had 29 candidates elected (two under both DAB and FTU banners). Its Legislative Council seats dropped from six to five in the 2016 Legislative Council election as veteran Wong Kwok-hing failed to retain its District Council (Second) seat. Nevertheless, the HKFTU has risen as the third-largest political group in the Legislative Council today and had 30 HKFTU representatives elected in the District Councils.

The HKFTU suffered a major defeat in the 2019 District Council election, which was held during the 2019 protests, retaining only five of their previous 29 seats.


In August 2018, the pro-democracy affiliated tabloid Apple Daily reported that the HKFTU had a total assets of about 250 million Hong Kong dollars. From 2015 to 2017, the federation accumulated income of $380 million Hong Kong dollars, including $242 million from unknown donation. The HKFTU also allegedly avoided paying $39.2 million profits tax by transferring $24.7 million to a company.[10]

Electoral performanceEdit

Legislative Council electionsEdit

Election Number of
popular votes
% of
popular votes
Total seats +/− Position
1991 44,894  3.28  0 1 0
1 / 60
0  N/A
1995 DAB ticket 0 1 0
1 / 60
0  N/A
2000 DAB ticket 0 1 0
1 / 60
1  N/A
2004 52,564  2.97  1 2
3 / 60
2  5th 
2008 86,311  5.70  2 2
4 / 60
1  5th 
2012 127,857  7.06  3 3
6 / 70
2  2nd 
2016 169,854  7.83  3 2
5 / 70
1  5th 

Note 1: Each voter got two votes in the 1991 Election.
Note 2: Before 2008 the HKFTU had a joint-ticket with DAB.

District Council electionsEdit

Election Number of
popular votes
% of
popular votes
elected seats
1988 3,360  0.53 
2 / 264
1991 6,229  1.17 
4 / 272
1999 1,074  0.13 
1 / 390
2003 3,928  0.37 
0 / 400
2007 42,045  3.69 
15 / 405
2011 64,385  5.45 
24 / 412
2015 95,583  6.61 
29 / 431
2019 181,418   6.19 
5 / 452

List of leadershipEdit




Executive CouncilEdit

Legislative CouncilEdit

Constituency Member
Hong Kong Island Kwok Wai-keung
Kowloon East Wong Kwok-kin
New Territories West Alice Mak
Labour Michael Luk Chung-hung

District CouncilsEdit

The FTU has won five seats in five District Councils (2020–2023):

District Constituency Member
Eastern Provident Kwok Wai-keung
Kwun Tong Lam Tin Kan Ming-tung
Tsuen Wan Fuk Loi Kot Siu-yuen
Tuen Mun King Hing Chan Yau-hoi
North Shing Fuk Warick Wan Wo-tat

National People's CongressEdit

Chinese People’s Political Consultative ConferenceEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "簡介". 香港工會聯合會.
  2. ^ Sprague, Jeb (2015). Globalization and Transnational Capitalism in Asia and Oceania. Routledge. ISBN 9781317482864.
  3. ^ "HKFTU".
  4. ^ a b Ng, Sek Hong (2010). Labour Law in Hong Kong. Kluwer Law International. p. 225.
  5. ^ a b Kuah, Khun Eng; Guiheux, Gille, eds. (2009). Social Movements in China and Hong Kong: The Expansion of Protest Space. Amsterdam University Press. p. 210.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  6. ^ Kuah 2010, p. 207.
  7. ^ Kuah 2010, p. 207-8.
  8. ^ a b c d e Felber, Roland; Grigoriev, A.M.; Leutner, Mechthild; et al., eds. (2013). The Chinese Revolution in the 1920s: Between Triumph and Disaster. Routledge. pp. 213–5.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  9. ^ Kuah 2010, p. 208.
  10. ^ "財務報告首曝光 坐擁2.5億資產 工聯會避稅392萬". 蘋果日報. 24 August 2018.

External linksEdit