A MOVE to make it illegal for employers to discriminate against women on grounds of age or sex was defeated by one vote. The proposal, by unionist Lee Cheuk-yan, was in response to a motion by Liberal Party member Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, who said women were finding it difficult to get jobs because the Government did not provide enough training or retraining programmes. But Mr Lee said she was 'making a wrong judgment and giving out an incorrect prescription' to cure the 'disease'. He argued that difficulty in finding jobs should be blamed on discrimination by employers. And positive action should be taken to eliminate age and sex discrimination. His amendment won support from Democratic Party members, and other liberal members, including Christine Loh Kung-wai, Elsie Tu, and Emily Lau Wai-hing. They said discrimination should be recognised, and advocated legislation to deal with it. Democrat Cheung Man-kwong said taking part-time jobs had become a trend for job-hunting women because of the poor conditions offered by employers. And the Democrats repeated the call to halt the importation of labour scheme which they said had made it more difficult for local workers, especially women, to find jobs. The Democratic Party chairman, Martin Lee Chu-ming, said that in the short run, the Government should step up administrative measures to prevent abuse of the importation policy. But Mrs Chow said that according to a street poll conducted by her party, more than half of the women respondents said they did not work merely because of the need to take care of their families. She said: 'The discrimination issue in fact does not exist . . . it is not due to a lack of job opportunities for women, but the need to provide training to give housewives skills.' She suggested putting more resources into the employee retraining programmes, and setting up courses on being professional domestic workers for housewives. Half a dozen demonstrators from the Women Workers' Association protested outside the building against the Liberal position. Shouting slogans and waving banners, they accused the party of ignoring age discrimination. Association spokesman Mok Miu-ying said women would not refuse jobs no matter how far away if they were better paid. 'But women over 30 are discriminated against. And the poor conditions offered by the retail chains force them to accept poorer and unguaranteed working conditions than younger workers,' she said. Another representative, Wong Yuen-ngo said older women could be paid as little as $20 per hour and had to work past 10 pm or 11 pm. However, Mrs Chow's motion won official support in the council. Secretary for Education and Manpower, Michael Leung Man-kin, said that despite disagreeing with Mrs Chow's accusation that the Government was providing insufficient services, the spirit of the motion should be supported. Mrs Chow's motion eventually passed by 21 to 18 votes. Mr Lee's amendment was defeated by 20 votes to 19.