The Government and a powerful business coalition united yesterday against an attempt by unionists to push for drastic changes to labour rights laws at the last sitting of the Legislative Council. Secretary for Education and Manpower, Joseph Wong Wing-ping, urged members not to 'act irresponsibly' by giving approval to the seven private member's bills without even knowing what they were. In seemingly orchestrated counter-lobbying, the Joint Business Group on the Labour Situation issued a joint statement and condemned the legislative moves 'irresponsible and irrational, losing sight of the far-reaching implications of these bills on the long-term well-being of Hong Kong'. Unionists sitting on the Legislative Council were making a last-ditch attempt to push for new laws to boost labour rights protections. They cover matters including unfair dismissal, collective bargaining power for unions and age discrimination. Mr Wong said yesterday the 'now or never' sentiments have prompted some members to push through the bills without thorough study and consultation. The bills, if they become law, would turn away investors and damage the relationship between employers and employees, he said. Mr Wong said they had given detailed information to the Chief Executive-designate's Office on the bills and their implications. Tung Chee-hwa aides' had helped lobby against the bill, he said. Commissioner for Labour Jacqueline Willis said the consultative mechanism on labour issues through the Labour Advisory Board would be jeopardised if they were bypassed by the members' legislative moves. Lee Cheuk-yan of the Confederation of Trade Unions said the support on both sides was now 'very close'. Whether the bills are passed now hinges on four votes from the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood. The Democratic Party has already indicated its support. Of the six bills, Mr Lee considered the bill on collective bargaining to be the most important one. Cheng Yiu-tong of the pro-China Federation of Trade Unions said it had yet to decide on its support. 'We would look at to what extent the bills would be of interest to workers, whether such interests would be short-term or long-term,' he said.