“A tool of the government’s political crackdown”
Adam N. Lee, chinaworker.info
Hong Kong’s state-owned rail giant MTR has expanded aggressively overseas in the past decade. The company has exploited the worldwide mania for privatisation of formerly publicly owned transport systems to establish itself as a global force. It now derives one-third of its revenue from operations in Europe, Australia and mainland China.
“In Sweden, MTR is now the third biggest employer in the capital Stockholm,” says Per-Åke Westerlund of the socialist party, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI in Sweden). “Several groups of unionised workers have grievances against the company, which operates the Stockholm subway system, the capital’s regional railway, and has also taken over national rail routes. This summer, MTR’s subcontractor at the regional railway sacked 24 cleaning workers and cut working hours for another 41.”
In Melbourne, Australia, MTR owns 60 percent of Metro, which operates the city’s trains. In 2015, the company’s attacks on working hours and conditions triggered the transport network’s first strike since 1997.