Staff from the Water Supplies Department have been assured they will not be forced to quit if privatisation plans go ahead. But unionists said staff were concerned about their jobs and hoped to meet Financial Secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung after his 'fat-trimming' remarks. The privatisation proposal was first floated by the Government in March 1999 in the name of efficiency. But it reportedly was put on hold after thousands of staff took to the streets to defend their jobs. Recent comments on 'fat-trimming' in the public and private sectors by Mr Leung have renewed fears that redundancies are imminent. The department said last week it would shed 200 clerical staff by 2004, a move it said was not connected to privatisation moves. In a letter to Water Supplies Department staff, Secretary for Works Lee Shing-shi said the Government was still deciding on the best course of action. Spokesman for the Alliance of Staff Unions of the Water Supplies Department Joseph Tam Wing-tai said he was disappointed that privatisation had not been ruled out despite efforts by staff to raise efficiency. 'The Government knows it is not the right time to pursue it. But it just won't close the door,' Mr Tam said. He said the department had been too ambitious in pushing for a 10 per cent savings target while others were required to cut spending by just five per cent by 2003. Mr Tam said the staff side could only co-operate in the hope that improved productivity would convince the Government that privatisation would be unnecessary. A government spokeswoman said the privatisation proposal was still under review. No timetable had been fixed.