Workers who strike will be protected from instant dismissal under a government proposal to be discussed today. The authorities plan to amend legislation that allows an employer to fire a worker who disobeys 'a lawful and reasonable order' or fails to carry out his duties. Currently, the employer does not have to give notice or pay severance or retirement benefits. The new proposal is to bring the law in line with Basic Law Article 27, which enshrines people's rights 'to join and form trade unions and to strike'. It is understood the Government also wants to make it easier for employees dismissed on unfair grounds such as disability, pregnancy, sex or family status to get their jobs back. At present, they can only do so if their boss agrees. The Education and Manpower Bureau proposes that the courts issue a reinstatement order, regardless of the employer's consent. Commissioner for Labour Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said yesterday: 'This [law] is vague and we need to clarify beyond doubt that a worker on strike would not be considered as breaching the terms of contract.' But he denied the provision breached the Basic Law. Mr Cheung said workers' right to strike was well protected. 'The Department of Justice has made it clear that the Basic Law should take predecence. The spirit [of protection] is always there,' he said. Unionist legislators Lee Cheuk-yan and Leung Yiu-chung, whose private member's bills on unfair dismissal and collective bargaining were scrapped by the provisional legislature last year, said the proposal failed to give workers a genuine right to strike. They said even if workers could not be instantly dismissed, employers could still get rid of them by giving them severance and retirement payments. The law should be amended to include citing union activities within working hours as grounds for unfair dismissal, they said. Mr Leung described the proposal as 'a very small step forward'. 'Collective bargaining is the key thing to protect workers' right to strike. And we need a whole set of laws on this issue. 'At present, workers do not know how and under what circumstances they can go on strike,' he said. Mr Lee said: 'As long as the right to reinstate is not in place, strikers will still face the threat of dismissal.' The labour relations committee of the Labour Advisory Committee will discuss the proposal to amend Section 9 of the Employment Ordinance today and a bill will be tabled to the Legislative Council early next year. The controversy over the right to strike re-emerged last week when Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company (Haeco) staff stopped work over a proposed overtime allowance cut of up to 16 per cent.