Quick recap on ytd: Snippering down janitors, Forearm wheel pose

Phew. So much to do today, tomorrow, day after and on Monday. A friend said I’m the sort of girl that thrives on a packed schedule, and now I do get one. So I have to help Chris with 2 teaching materials and a short review commentary, and I sort of have to keep reviewing and updating the CUEGU thing (though the launch of the new, detailed survey had been delayed, probably due to a lot of dealings & meetings taking place behind the scenes regarding our collective fate on Mondays – us referring to CUHK staff members) , and also I half regret signing up to be the 監票員 on this Sunday (on the bright side, at least it gives me a reason to get to the voting station as early as 7:30am, which will never ever happen in any other possible worlds). Even I am sweating seeing this level of compaction.

But yea now I’m tackling item 0, which should have been done ytd but i was too tired to – recording what happened yesterday at CUHK, see what can be reported back to enhance CUEGU proposals & really just for the sake of me to remember what I did for what reasons; and perhaps ease my mind a bit on the many past experiences that come to appear to my mind recently (mostly from intimate rships).

**

So yesterday, a friend from CUGC and I went back to CUHK to check on the frontline workers. My idea was ‘to carry something through to the full extent’: if I helped starting a petition on workers’ safety given potential chemical hazards now at the CUHK campus, then I should make it fair and accessible to *all* CUHK staff regardless of their position and level of literacy.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeaO8P9GfbW6Tubu7hhbTE7M-BnfDlLaRC-tcUoLRgqDLshzw/viewform?usp=sf_link

中大教職員、校友及同學促請中大校方:全面檢測及謹慎清理中大室內外化學污染,並確保工友安全 — CUHK Staff, Alumni and Students Demand thorough testing & prudent cleaning of CUHK chemical contamination and occupational safety precautions for frontline workers. (872 signed by 22 Nov 2019 🙂 )

So, simply speaking I achieved my aim, coz I managed to distribute all ard 15 copies of the petitions, enlarged to 16+ font size and one-sided A4 (out of some weird presumptions about people having a worse vision??) to different stakeholders on campus, including boss of restaurants, supervisory staff as well as frontline workers; mostly in person, some of them sneaked into their secret hideouts (ok resting rooms) from under the door (‘You know where you are and I know where you are B-)’ – weird).

I think the most ‘gratifying’ spot was 花圃路,where after an initial scare (a supervisory staff seemed to be really alert about us speaking to a frontline gardening staff), his attitude sort of changed 180 (to me) when I mentioned I was distributing something from the CUEGU. He talked a lot about what he think can be fought for at this stage (shit now it gives me a sense of urgency to report back – the school is making decisions every minute rn) from his observations & experience at the frontline.

Then he sort of gave us the green light to approach other workers on the road when we turned back, and that’s how we managed to get in touch with some quite young & bespectacled 油漆(?)組 workers, some apparently 木工/泥水組 uncles who made me laugh with how they viewed us as monitors to be dealt by PR methods, some more hesitant gardening uncles who walked past, and a few 戶外組(?)aunties, uncles + young staff who got called to go uphill upon our approaching them (guess the senior doesn’t like us talking to them that much), and a 戶外/街道清潔組 head who chatted a bit with us while the cleaners were picking up trash and bricks on CC grass. That was the most ‘fruitful’ time period out of our entire 2.5 hours (1230-3?).

Some less fruitful times was when we searched in vain from 7/F down to 1/F for cleaners on the Sino+ ‘3 brothers’ bdgs, only to find one janitor who was new to the school responding to our knock on a very subtle door. She said she did not know how to read so giving her the petition didn’t mean a lot, but I asked her to retain it for others to read in the resting room. Then a more awkward encounter took place at YIA, where 4 janitors were resting at the bottom of a staircase which became a makeshift place for them to hang their equipment and calendars etc. They were a hell lot more cautious about us approaching them, and took our petitions sort of to hasten our departure. Later on we met a lady who held the petition took from her colleagues and said she ‘would not talk to us anymore’ – probably a reference to how she got scolded off from disclosing ‘un-fact-chcked’ info to students before, as my friend had spoken to her before perhaps about the employment status of toilet cleaners (outsourced or in-house). They told us they did not have to perform any dangerous works, and they were mostly just there to clean the washrooms & buildings so that they can be used once work resumed.

Most of the workers we met did not care that much about chemical pollution in the air, and they were keen to tell us that they got the protective equipments – one of them mistook the N95 mask she got as the ‘豬咀’ and I corrected her. Also they seemed to be given hard plastic goggles, but most of them weren’t wearing it (possibly didn’t see the point in wearing it). Some of them expressed fear with directly drinking water from the campus, and the supervisors expressed concern with the traffic arrangements (super congestion in Shatin area and how buses were so packed that they didn’t stop for the workers).

They suggested 1) also showing concern for the EMO management & repair headquarters, located right underneath Haddon-Cave sports ground – for that we can communicate to 安全及環境署 who is responsible; 2) asking for alternative traffic arrangements in-campus (for departments working near Bridge No. 2); 3) asking for alternative traffic arrangement to & fro the school, like shuttle buses, or to have different departments resuming work on different dates gradually in order to ease the traffic burden, now that the Uni station is closed; 4) Ask for special permission for pregnant staff to work at home or to resume work later.

However the attitude of the supervisors were more ‘demeaning’ of the frontline staff – they expressed fears that ‘they would say the wrong things’ and that ‘they can’t even read’, so it’s okay to bypass them in the consultation process.

Some staff perhaps 訓示ed by their superior earlier took a really PR attitude in replying to us. They said they were not supposed to be resuming work yet, but some of them returned ‘out of a sense of duty’, and they did not even know if wages would be provided for these days of ‘voluntary service’. Also, equipments were provided and they felt okay with the chemical issues around the campus. The funniest point was when they pointed to the ‘Five Demands’ the company had engraved onto the worksite walls and possibly attempting to do the same in their hearts and mind: 「顧客第一、環保安全、XXXX、持續改進、不斷革新」. One of them who walked past the door joked 「缺一不可呀!」。I like how they were trying to stick to the official line, while defying it with their joking attitudes – I sort of enjoyed this having an understanding among us while our communicated was mediated by ‘the official line’.

Yup, so I better write up a Chinese version of some keypoints from the above, for other CUEGU+ friends.

*

Ah I almost forgot. So we also spoke to the boss of the veggie restaurant who happened to be there – a thin, polite-looking middle-aged guy who looks quite nice :). He gave some measured comments on the type of violence out there (‘even language violence is a form of unobservable violence,’) to suggest that he wasn’t exactly on the side of the young protestors, but that’s fine. I asked if there’s gonna be any subsidy for the colossal loss in volume of business out of the emergency campus evacuation, and he said they were dealing with the school about it (?). He said that he was happy to have achieved some balance in revenue & costs earlier, only to be reversed by the recent unexpected incidents.

He wanted to apply for the Li Ka Shing aid for SME restaurants but since they do not have a 飲食牌 operating here in campus, they were sadly ineligible for the however small subsidy. They would be happy if we can somehow reflect it to the 膳委會s. Also, they reopened yesterday because they thought the school was going to resume work on Thursday – but it was announced really late (on Weds afternoon) that it wasn’t going to. So I think they got ‘tricked’ into spending some extra electricity, water & manpower in dealing with that. Also, he said they had to throw away boxes of organic vegetables stored inside before because of the chemical scares, which is another source of grave loss.

*

Ok so, what else. I can talk about the journey to CUHK, which was a physical strain mostly because I slept late (for that fucking stupid Taobao payment issue) and had to wake up early to get to CUHK. I mistakenly took 807K towards Sai Kung instead of CUHK mtr station and sort of had a nice-ish minibus ride for some extra rest before arriving. It was a bit confusing to figure out what to take when the Uni station was closed and I had to try out the 681 from tin hau to Ma On Shan option, but I quite liked the route – got to see more trees and a bit (annoyingly) of Ma On Shan’s different estates. But $20.2 one way – not a small amount, at least according to my shitting consumer’s perception ($20.2>>>>$19.9).

And skipping my nice convo with an old friend and brief meeting with Chris & another new friend, I had a really nice opening up of my upper back & shoulders, using the yoga wheel to do this:

Was a ‘pain’ as I did 2 times wrong and the last one right – it felt really really straining for my shoulders, but afterwards it was great, I feel like something that had been real tight all along really got opened up. I quite like the more introductory pace of the class and the more ‘professional’ (i.e. not chatty?) style of the teacher. It was a bit of a down-letting when my friend seemed not to share it because she was worried about having to get back to work .. aww I would have loved for the timing to work so we can do this every week. I see the point in paying for yoga wheel classes, not really in paying for stretches that I can pretty much do by myself with youtube at home.

arrrhhhh… really look forward to getting my own yoga wheel so I can roll roll roll at home (sob sob)….

And maybe I can really become the ‘bendy girl’ if I keep practising yoga. I really, really liked the calming, soothing and pace-changing practicing yoga gives. Had felt the urge to do it at home & almost had been doing it everyday in the past few days. Maybe it will really grow into me, as it is a much-needed part in my journey to ‘reverse’ some deep-seated personalities & habits in myself: being really hectic, impatient about packed items to be done, and sort of compulsorily having them on my mind before they are done or lingering on the after-taste of a well-done or worrisome-ly-done task. It helps cooling myself down and get me to change my pace, and get ready for some rest and stretches that I really look forward to. (The Yogi term ‘juicy’ sounds cheesy self-loving shit, but some twists and stretches really are juicy.)

Need a lot of that for the last few days of hectic first stab at unionising.

Gotta get back to work & maybe you too,

Anna x

Author: Veronique

To be tenacious, patient and independent.

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