UNIONISTS last night agreed to postpone plans to scrap labour importation. The move came after the Government promised to decide within days whether to make the supplementary labour scheme negotiable. Labour representatives, who met officials yesterday, agreed to defer gazettal of their private member's bill to halt labour importation, originally due for Friday. They said they would gazette it next week, if the Government did not make concessions. Governor Chris Patten announced in his policy speech that the supplementary scheme, with a maximum quota of 5,000, would begin in January to replace the current general importation scheme. Trade unionists said the new scheme would worsen unemployment. The bill's sponsor, Lee Cheuk-yan of the Confederation of Trade Unions, said: 'If the Government replies that those terms can be negotiable, we are willing to stay our action.' He was referring to the date of the scheme, the quota and other details. Mr Lee and five other unionists, including Lau Chin-shek, Leung Yiu-chung and Lee Kai-ming, were told in the talks with Secretary for Education and Manpower Joseph Wong Wing-ping that a 'discussion period' was needed to see whether there was room for co-operation. But the unionists said a 'discussion period' was meaningful only if flexibility was allowed and everything about the new scheme was negotiable. Mr Lee said Mr Wong responded favourably to the suggestion, but could not give a reply without consulting other officials. Mr Lee, who had been told Mr Patten would veto his bill if passed, rejected suggestions he had softened his stance. He said: 'I believe we can gain as long as the Government agrees to grant a discussion period.' Legislator Chan Yuen-han, of the Federation of Trade Unions, said the Government's attitude in the talks was different from its stance in the past. 'It seems it is willing to make concessions,' she said. A vice-director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Wang Fengchao, yesterday warned against radical demands over the unemployment issue. He said the Government, employers and employees' representatives should seek consultation to get an appropriate resolution.