THE unemployed are having to queue from as early as 5 am to get help from the Labour Department's job centres. The nine centres, inundated by the highest number of jobless people for many years, are also having to deal with hundreds of students searching for summer work. Most centres are able to help only 200 to 240 job-hunters a day so unemployed workers have begun arriving at the centres before dawn. 'The situation is getting very bad here,' a Labour Department staff member said at one job centre. The first 200 people in the queue get a chit telling them when to come for an interview, but those remaining have to come back the following day and queue again. Stanley Wu Tak-wing, 19, received a chit on Friday after he began queuing four hours before the Wan Chai centre opened at 9 am. 'I wanted to get one of the first five chits because my friends told me the department has only a few jobs to offer,' said Mr Wu who finished his Form Seven examination this month. 'If I had slept in, I would have blown my summer job plans.' Yam Sau-kuen, 37, gave up any hope of a job placement interview when she found more than 200 people queuing up at the Wan Chai job centre at 7.30 am. 'The Labour Department is completely useless. They can't find me a job through the job-matching scheme. I registered last month,' said Ms Yam who has been out of her messenger job for five months. 'I can't get a chit in the morning queue because the queue has been too long. After all, I am only asking for a cleaning job,' she said. The Labour Department is seeking at least $3.2 million to expand the job matching scheme for those aged 30 or above. A department spokesman said there were plans for an additional 13 placement officers and support staff. At present, the department registers 17,577 job openings for about 78,800 unemployed people.