Focus on labour imports disappoints

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 August, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 August, 1999, 12:00am

Critics should not narrow their focus to only the importation of foreign labour and overlook other proposals in a blueprint to re-invigorate the textile industry, the head of an industry coalition said.

Speaking after meeting a group of Democrats, Textile and Garment Industry Revitalisation Committee chairman Kenneth Fang Hung said he was disappointed the media and public were only concerned about the proposal to import foreign workers.

The suggestion came in a proposal submitted by the committee to the Chief Executive on August 5.

Mr Fang said yesterday: 'We have spent more than seven months drawing up the plan and there are still no concrete and supportive reasons that would change our mind so far.' The coalition says its plan would spur seven to 7.5 per cent growth in the industry, create 32,000 new jobs and bring in additional revenue of $38 billion before the abolition of the quota system in 2005.

The proposal was attacked by unionists and political parties, who said the industry was protecting profits at the expense of local workers.

Democrat Tsang Kin-shing said after yesterday's meeting: 'I strongly oppose the industry importing labour and cutting wages to increase their competitiveness in the market.' Industrialists are teaming up to push through the controversial plan to import workers to 'revitalise' the economy.

The Joint Business Group on Labour Situation, which represents 13 employers' associations, yesterday threw its weight behind the proposal.