Workers offer Patten a bitter taste

AS the summit began, Mr Patten was given a bitter squash, representing workers' bitter lives.

The squash was handed over by Chan Yuen-han from the 210,000 strong pro-China Federation of Trade Unions.

The majority of the summit was taken up by speeches from the Government, three employers' representatives and three unionists, followed by about an hour's floor discussion.

Unionists slammed the summit as unrepresentative and biased towards employers.

Nine of the 14 speakers chosen from the floor were employer representatives, and the remaining five were labour representatives, said legislator and trade unionist Lee Cheuk-yan.

He said it was unfair that all attending representatives did not have a chance to speak.

The 14 speakers from the floor were selected by Mr Patten at random out of an audience of raised hands, although Mr Lee said Mr Patten selected more employers who 'naturally grouped' together and were easily distinguished by 'ties and good suits'.

Another trade unionist was 'extremely disappointed'. Federation chairman Cheng Yiu-tong said it was a no-win situation for workers and the outcome was inevitable, although the atmosphere was peaceful.

'Just on a show of hands, workers were out-done by employers. It was two against one. The two - Government and employers - defeated labour representatives.' Hong Kong and Kowloon Trade Unions' Michael Leung Tsz-leung also complained major trade unions were over-represented and that delegates from pro-China organisations dominated the audience.

He said some associations were not invited.

It was difficult to reach a consensus from the points raised without a direct response from the Government.