Pacific Century CyberWorks has received 234 applications from sacked staff for the company's $40 million lay-off assistance fund. Christine Fang Meng-sang, who chairs a committee administering the fund, said most applicants needed urgent financial help. Many were couples who had both lost their jobs. Ms Fang said the first batch of assistance could be issued within two weeks. Each sacked staff member could receive up to $30,000, with special consideration given to those in severe situations. A retraining course organised by the fund and the Labour Department will begin at the end of this month. So far 180 applications have been received. The $40 million fund was set up after PCCW sacked 858 workers last month. A total of $30 million was set aside for financial relief, the rest being allocated for retraining.