HONG KONG — Hong Kong was plunged deeper into political crisis on Monday, with a massive citywide strike, more demonstrations and protesters disrupting train services during the morning rush-hour.
An estimated 300,000 workers, roughly 8% of the city’s total labor force, went on strike on Monday, according to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, the pro-democratic party behind the strike. It estimated about 200,000 people had turned up to the seven gatherings later in the afternoon.
Large-scale strikes rippled across industries, with the aviation sector alone seeing thousands of workers taking part. International travelers were caught off guard, as hundreds of flights were canceled or delayed.
Cathay Pacific Airways canceled about 150 flights on Monday and Tuesday, Hong Kong’s leading carrier said. About 1,500 flight attendants at the airline joined the strike, according to an estimate from a person familiar with the matter. The airline has between 5,000 and 6,000 flight attendants working on a normal day.
An official with the Civil Aviation Department said the number of its employees, including air traffic controllers, who called in for sick leave on Monday was slightly higher than usual.
Meanwhile, most of the city’s 11 rail lines, including the link to the airport, were partly suspended as some hard-core protesters stopped train doors from closing. Services by the MTR, the city’s rail operator, had largely returned to normal by mid-afternoon after leaving many of the city’s commuters, who average nearly 5 million on a daily basis, stranded.
Protesters later gathered at seven districts across Hong Kong. The demonstrations turned violent in several locations, with police firing tear gas to disperse the crowds.