Chauffeurs are losing their jobs to foreign workers who can live on site and work longer hours for less pay, a union claimed yesterday. In the past year, an increasing number of foreigners have replaced local chauffeurs by taking advantage of a loophole in labour laws that allows them to be hired as domestic helpers, according to the Motor Transport Workers General Union, which represents 3,100 local chauffeurs. 'They're stealing our rice bowls. The problem is becoming serious,' said Li Wing-sang, chairman of the union. 'Some employers are finding all kinds of excuses to sack local chauffeurs, and other employers are asking local drivers to retire early, take pay cuts or work longer hours.' The union recently surveyed 269 of its members, asking them to estimate how many expatriate drivers were employed in the areas they work. The chauffeurs from 11 separate areas said 407, or 29.6 per cent, of the 1,375 chauffeurs were foreigners. Mr Li admitted the survey was unscientific and the union did not know how many local chauffeurs were unemployed and how many foreigners worked as drivers. A spokeswoman from the Asian Domestic Workers' Union said it was unfair to blame foreign drivers, even though she agreed that many employers preferred to hire foreigners because their salaries were lower and the employers could demand more work from a foreign chauffeur. 'It's the decision of the employer,' said the spokeswoman, Precy Ancheda. The union yesterday asked that the Immigration Department close the loophole and temporarily ban foreigners from working as chauffeurs. Department officials were not available for comment.