The jobless rate in the retail chain and department store sectors has hit 20 per cent, a new survey shows. This compares with the overall 4.5 per cent unemployment figure - the highest in 15 years. The Hong Kong Department Stores and Commercial Staff General Union interviewed 365 members and found up to 20 per cent were without a job. Of the 15,000 workers in the sectors in July last year, 3,000 had since lost their jobs or switched to a different line of work, union secretary Tang Cheung-sing said. He said more could become unemployed over the next two months. 'It's a disaster area and there is no end in sight. The situation will further deteriorate soon, with at least two more large companies planning major restructuring and layoffs,' Mr Tang said. He declined to name the companies. The Labour Department and the union have urged workers not to sign any contract agreeing to a wage reduction before consulting them. The union's chairman, legislator Chan Yuen-han, said: 'Workers are in a tight spot. If you don't sign, you get fired. But if you do, your livelihood will be affected. 'But if workers and unions stick together, we may be able to get some kind of collective bargaining going.'