UNIONS will fax their responses in a referendum the Government says it will note in reaching a decisionon the future of the labour importation scheme. More than 500 copies of the ballot paper and background briefing messages were faxed to labour groups yesterday with instructions to seek members' opinions before casting their votes. Each union will have one vote each no matter how many members they have. They were given eight days to decide whether they will accept the government proposal to cut the number of imported workers from 5,000 to 2,000 in February. If the majority responds positively, union representatives will tell the Government they will drop their fight for a complete ban on labour importation. If they vote no, unionists will back Lee Cheuk-yan's private member's bill calling on the Legislative Council to scrap labour importation completely. It is understood most of the labour representatives were in favour of the 'yes' vote because they believed the deal offered by the Government was the best they were likely to get. Labour representatives and legislators Cheng Yiu-tong and Lee Kai-ming have been appointed by the unions to supervise the ballot. Mr Cheng said they would try to ensure a fair referendum and would invite members to attend vote-counting on December 29. About 90 unions discussed the issue at a meeting on Monday but were unable to reach a consensus. However, Mr Cheng said: 'We are not softening our position. We still want to stop importing labour. It is not a concession.' Mr Cheng, the chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, said messages had been sent to all 118 member unions. Elizabeth Tang Yin-ngor, executive secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, said she had faxed about 40 member unions yesterday. The deal also included a one-month delay in introducing the new scheme, and establishing an employment centre to give priority to local workers. Governor Chris Patten has postponed introducing the new labour scheme until he sees the result of the referendum.