A HONGKONG labour union which appealed to Guangdong authorities to reduce their proposed 33 per cent road maintenance fees has managed to defer implementation from January 1 until after the Lunar New Year. In a meeting between the Container Transportation Employees General Union and Guangdong and Shenzhen officials at the Lowu border crossing, Chinese officials agreed to retain the old fee of $180 per tonne till March 3 when it would rise to $240 per tonne. Mr Chen Jinzhang, deputy head of the Guangdong Provincial Highway Bureau, said the increase was already applied to mainland motor vehicles. He said due to the busy traffic during the Lunar New Year, it was decided that Hongkong trucks would not have to pay the revised fees until March 3. However, Mr Chen rejected another proposal by the union to abolish the highway loan-repayment fund. The union representatives claimed the adoption of the public-auction method of selling Hongkong-Guangdong direct truck licences would affect existing transport companies and drivers who wanted to buy them as the prices would be pushed up to very high levels. But Mr Han Panyan, head of Guangdong Foreign Economic Trade Committee, said the public auction method of disposing of licences was based on the principle of being open and fair. He could not provide further details of how the method would work as it had not been finalised. Mr Han said the authorities would take into account the achievements of existing transportation companies and preferential treatment would be offered. All proceeds from the public auction would be used to improve road and border facilities in remote areas. The union representatives, who proposed that Guangdong officials should consult members of the industry in Hongkong before formulating its policy, said Mr Han promised to pass on their views to his seniors.