At least one in five garment workers could lose their jobs if a new labour importation scheme was implemented, a union warned yesterday. The Garment-making Trade Workers Union warned the scheme could lead to soaring unemployment among such workers, who are already suffering a jobless rate which officially stood at 8.8 per cent for the first quarter of the year. The union, which has about 7,000 members, said its own investigation revealed the unemployment rate was 14 per cent. Last week, the Textiles and Garment Industry Revitalisation Committee proposed, as part of a 16-point plan to revive the industry's fortunes, a scheme in which manufacturers would be allowed to import labour based on the number of local workers they have. Union chairman Kan Chi-sing said: 'If the plan goes ahead, we believe the jobless rate for the group can rise beyond 20 per cent based on our present data. 'In effect, it will completely destroy the livelihood of the local workers and kill off local textile craftsmanship.' The union also feared the move would lead to exploitation of cheap labour as manufacturers were allowed to determine wage levels. It urged the Government to reject the committee's demands and retain the existing Supplementary Labour Scheme, in operation since 1996.