It is no secret that the SAR Government has set its face firmly against the idea of collective bargaining. One of the last laws passed before the handover was frozen by the new administration immediately afterwards. Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen described the provisions in the bill as 'abhorrent', claiming they would damage competitiveness and force employers into a corner over pay and conditions. Nothing that has happened since indicates there is the slightest change in official attitudes. But legislator Lee Cheuk-yan, of the Confederation of Trade Unions, having proposed the original bill, continues to press his cause in Legco. In April, he was refused permission to introduce a private member's bill that sought to reintroduce collective bargaining on the grounds that it would incur public expenditure and was related to government policies. Now he is urging the Government to respond to a recommendation by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) that it thinks again on the subject. When the ILO first made its request over a year ago, the Government said the Legislative Council was divided on the issue and that the administration was trying to set up a voluntary system instead. This response did not satisfy the ILO, which recognised it as something of a fudge and replied in strong terms, saying it 'deeply regrets this state of affairs'. It has put the Government on the spot by again asking it to lay down procedures for collective bargaining. Clearly, a repeat of the previous position is not going to satisfy the 100-member committee which is pursuing the question. So an embarrassing impasse is in the offing. As a signatory to the ILO, the SAR Government is under a moral obligation to observe its fundamental principles, or at the very least to provide an acceptable alternative. It has until May to respond, but there is nothing to be gained by delay. It is simply a matter of deciding whether or not this administration can comply with ILO conventions. If it cannot, and no compromise can be reached, it may be necessary to withdraw from the organisation completely. However embarrassing that may be, there is no point in joining a club and failing to play by the rules.