Inter-Union Rivalry Between Pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions and Pro-Democracy Confederation of Trade Unions
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Both the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) and pro-democracy Confederation of Trade Unions (CTU) adopted a strategy of social movement unionism in Hong Kong under the British rule. Yet, a watershed took place in 1997 when the FTU changed its strategy to support tripartism and the HKSAR government wholeheartedly. Rather than supporting the collective bargaining bill initiated by the CTU, the FTU rejected it on political grounds and voted against it just prior to the handover of Hong Kong on July 1, 1997. Immediately after the sovereignty transfer, the FTU supported the move by the Provisional Legislative Council to repeal the collective bargaining legislation. The FTU’s strategic change was due to its need to support the policies of the HKSAR government and the PRC policy toward the maintenance of social and political stability in the territory. However, the FTU’s positional change has made it more politically moderate than before, while simultaneously cooperating with the pro-Beijing political forces to compete with the CTU and pro-democracy candidates in local elections. Although FTU members have succeeded in becoming the Hong Kong members of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, their numerical inferiority compared to the business people and professionals means that it is far less politically influential at the higher levels of the Hong Kong and mainland Chinese political systems.