[Documents menu] Documents menu

Date: Mon, 21 Jul 1997 10:17:58 +0800 (HKT)
From: AMRC <amrc@HK.Super.NET>

Solidarity against the World Bank

By Gerard Greenfield, Asia Monitor Resource Center, 21 July 1997

Dear Comrades,

We've just participated in the first planning meeting for a public education and action campaign to coincide with the big World Bank/IMF meeting in Hong Kong on September 15th-26th this year. Over 180 finance ministers and 2000 reporters will converge on Hong Kong for the official meeting!

In response a coalition of social activists, unionists, teachers, social workers, writers and NGO workers called SOLIDARITY AGAINST THE WORLD BANK/IMF has been formed to organise a campaign over the next two months.

The campaign is particularly important because the World Bank will release two new reports during the Hong Kong meeting. The first report, _China 2020_, will be released on September 16th. This report celebrates the success of China's market reforms while demanding even more deregulation and privatisation over the next two decades. The widespread privatisation of state- owned enterprises in China in 1997 alone will see 50 million workers laid off. At the same time, the social security system is being commercialised and privatised, and migration from villages to the cities is being encouraged as the solution to growing unemployment! There are already 100 million *floating* migrant workers looking for work!

These neoliberal policies are underpinned by the fact that China is now the World Bank's BIGGEST DEBTOR, and many of the reforms being imposed on workers this year (including privatisation, the dismantling of the social security system, and the end of job security) conform to the specific demands made by the World Bank in its report on China last year. (Of course we aren't arguing that the WB/IMF forced the Chinese government to do this, but that there is a partnership of interests in their neoliberal attack on the working class).

The second report to be released at the September meeting will deal with poverty in East Asia. While arguing that poverty is increasing in East Asia, the World Bank argues that effective poverty alleviation requires even greater privatisation of social welfare and fails to recognise the contribution of labour market deregulation and unemployment to this new poverty.

The campaign organised by SOLIDARITY AGAINST THE WORLD BANK/IMF will also focus on Hong Kong. In the World Bank's celebration of the *East Asian miracles*, the Bank has argued that structural adjustment was a painless experience for workers. It is claimed that all of the workers who lost jobs under the mass plant closures in the 1980s easily found jobs in the service sector! The campaign will highlight the real crisis faced by unemployed workers in Hong Kong, and the lack of income and job security in the casualised service sector. This will link up with our ongoing protest against the *freezing* of new labour laws in Hong Kong (including the right to collective bargaining) by the government last week.

Our activities will be based on the following:

For the campaign we'll produce an 8 page pamphlet on the impact of World Bank/IMF development ideology and policies on workers, particularly in China and Hong Kong. We'll also produce SOLIDARITY AGAINST THE WORLD BANK/IMF posters for workplaces, NGO welfare centres, schools, and public places.

On September 14th (the day before the World Bank/IMF meeting) a public forum will be held to discuss the impact of neoliberalism and to elaborate on the issues and problems outlined in the pamphlet. As part of this forum, housing rights and right to livelihood groups will organise a public exhibition concerning poverty in Hong Kong and China, workers' support groups and unions will discuss unemployment and the attack on job and income security, and other social action groups will deal with the environment, education, etc. This forum will also provide an important opportunity to discuss strategies for resistance (including workers' resistance in China) and thinking about alternatives.

There will be an additional public forum on the night of September 16th to discuss the report _China 2020_. A critical response to the report will be released to the press and publicised in the local community on September 17th.

Finally, on September 21st a demonstration will be held to collectively voice our protest at the World Bank/IMF. The demonstration will also challenge the new restrictions on freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, not only to demand the right to freedom of expression, but to demand the right to freely express working class opinion about unemployment, the lack of job and income security and growing poverty in Hong Kong, and to support the tens of thousands of workers throughout China who are protesting against mass retrenchments under the new privatisation programme.

We'll produce 1000 copies of an 8-page pamphlet in Chinese (plus another 200 in English) and about 1000 posters.

It would be great if you could send us letters of solidarity during the campaign! Please send messages to: Fax: 852 2454 6094 (Attention Au Loong Yu) or to email: auly@chevalier.net

In solidarity,

Gerard Greenfield
Asia Monitor Resource Center
Hong Kong