Textile employees urged the Government yesterday to reject employers' demands for 10,000 foreign workers. They said they should not be imported and would amount to 'cheaper labour'. The local workers said they had worked for years in an industry that was the mainstay of Hong Kong's economy from the 1960s until the 1980s. Their appeal came after several manufacturers asked the Government to ease restrictions on importing unskilled workers. Of a total workforce of about 45,000, only about 100 workers were imported, according to the Federation of Trade Unions. Current restrictions made it difficult to import any more. Manufacturers said high employee turnover would force them to close their factories and move to the mainland. Workers at a press conference held by the union yesterday disputed claims of high staff turnovers. They said many workers had been 'forced' to leave a trade they enjoyed because they could not earn enough money. Low pay and insufficient work has seen the number of local textile workers fall from 68,282 in 1995 to 45,000. The average monthly salary was less than $4,000, workers and unionists said. One woman, who started work in the industry in her early teens and who is now 49, said she had been underemployed for the past five to six years, working only about 10 days a month. 'How can they possibly want to import more workers when the rest of us cannot get enough work? 'We helped support Hong Kong's economy . . . many young girls entered this field like I did and stayed. Now they want to get rid of us,' she said. Government officials are considering the employers' request for foreign labour.