By acting in haste to scrap the labour laws passed by the dismissed pre-handover legislature, the SAR Government may very well have reason to repent at leisure. As things stand now it finds itself with two completely contradictory laws related to work practices. One from Article 9 of the Employment ordinance that says, among other things, that if workers disobey reasonable orders an employer can terminate the contract; the other from the Basic Law defining the right and freedom to strike. Finally, the Labour Advisory Committee is acting to bring the labour laws in line with the Basic Law, making it illegal for employers to sack workers for going on strike. Increased employee protection is long overdue. Labour disputes have rocketed since the recession. Some unscrupulous employers have used it as an excuse to slash wages, sack staff and cut hours without good cause; but faced with the alternative of job loss there has been little that employees could do about it. Taking court action is not an option for people who are no longer wage-earners. However, it would be unfortunate if strikes were to become more common following this move. Harmonious labour relations are crucial to economic recovery as the city emerges from the worst of the crisis. But given the discontent and ill-will fomenting in some sections of commerce and industry, strikes could become more of a possibility even though this amendment may not cover automatic reinstatement for strikers, as union leaders are urging. If the bill on collective bargaining had been left on the statute book, or if unionist legislator Lee Cheuk-yan had been able to sponsor his private member's bill on the same theme last session, a simpler solution would have been available. Some employers at the time hailed the decision to repeal the collective bargaining law, but it would have offered the opportunity for both sides to sit round the table and hammer out a mutual agreement to avoid industrial action. Now that bosses face less protection, they may recognise the virtues of a law whose main aim is to prevent labour disputes escalating into damaging stoppages.