RESTAURANT workers have called for tougher regulations to protect them from dismissal by employers trying to avoid long-service payments. Unionists urged the Government to extend unfair dismissal legislation. Workers from the Ocean Palace restaurant and nightclub said they feared another 60 to 70 staff - who were close to five years' service - would be sacked in the coming months. More than 40 staff have been fired in the past two months, most of whom were about to complete five years - a criterion for long service payment. The restaurant, employing more than 300 staff, has operated in Tsim Sha Tsui for more than 18 years. 'There are about 60 to 70 workers who will reach five years' service by the end of the year. 'Every day we work in fear because it may be our turn to receive a letter of dismissal from our supervisor,' said a Mr Cheng, who refused to give his full name. Management were unavailable for comment. Under the law, workers reaching five years' service with the same employer are guaranteed 100 days' wages as a long service payment if they are dismissed. Those who serve fewer than five years are entitled to seven days' pay. The restaurant's workers also alleged the management was trying to avoid controversy by sacking staff in stages, avoiding the publicity surrounding big redundancies. 'It was not until recently that we approached the labour unions for help because we felt actions of the management were becoming abnormal,' said Mr Cheng. Workers said management had not explained why staff were being laid off. Chan Ngan-fat, 40, who had worked for the restaurant for four years and nine months, was informed of his dismissal yesterday by his supervisor. He believed his dismissal was related to his union activism. 'I handed in 100 signatures collected from my colleagues with the help of the Confederation of Trade Unions to the management last Thursday. I hoped they would understand our worries and give guarantees of a fair arrangement,' said Mr Chan. On Friday, letters issued by management were distributed to staff who had signed the petition, saying they should admit their actions had caused a nuisance. At the same time, the company said sacked staff could rejoin after a month. Thirty days' compensation would be paid. 'Some 20 sacked workers signed the letters under pressure because they wanted their jobs back,' said Mr Chan.