Unions gave a mixed reaction to the plan to tackle unemployment. The proposal to create 100,000 jobs would not bring work to the unemployed in service and manufacturing industries, hardest hit by the economic downturn, critics argued. They said the 100,000 positions were not new jobs but came from approved infrastructure projects and many would be taken by those left unemployed on completion of the new airport. Other jobs created by the plan, including street cleaning, repainting road signs and gutter clearing, would be grabbed by those who lost work under government attempts to privatise public works. The companies that won the bids did not rehire many of the workers and offered lower wages, critics said. But one unionist saw the plan as a positive first step and hoped the Government would address key issues in the taskforce's monthly meetings. 'It's better that they're doing something than sitting back and doing nothing,' said Li Fung-ying, general secretary of the Hong Kong and Kowloon Federation of Trade Unions. But Lam Ying-hing, an organiser for the Coalition Concerning Women's Employment Rights, said: 'The Government failed to address the key problems. It continues to refuse what workers' advocates have been demanding . . . creating an unemployment assistance fund, setting a minimum wage and creating more jobs in the social service sector.' Cheng Yiu-tong, Federation of Trade Unions chairman and a union representative on the taskforce, said he was disappointed the Government did not propose cutting rates and rent for small and medium-size businesses, especially those on public housing estates, to help them stay afloat and avoid layoffs. 'This means the employers will end up cutting the workers' salaries or letting them go,' he said. The Government plan for nine-month, intensive job training classes would not be attractive to lower income families, who were wondering if they could continue to pay rent and feed their families, a recently laid off seamstress said. 'We want to take classes and learn new skills, such as typing or answering telephones, but we're not confident that after nine months we can find jobs,' Yeung Wai-ying said. Elizabeth Tang Yin-ngor, chief executive of the Confederation of Trade Unions and one of the three employee representatives in the taskforce, felt there was nothing new in the proposals. 'They only promised to hasten what they've promised to do,' she said. 'But with two-thirds of the new jobs coming mainly from infrastructure and public works programmes, I feel we may not have the necessary workers readily trained for the jobs.'