LONG delays at the Labour Tribunal have defeated its purpose of providing a quick, inexpensive and informal method to settle disputes, a unionist said yesterday. The director of the Federation of Trade Unions' rights and benefits committee, Leung Fu-wah, said a backlog of almost 2,200 cases was recorded by September. That could lead to workers suffering losses, he said. The average waiting time before a claim could be filed in the Eastern Labour Tribunal was 174 days while workers had to wait 63 days at the Sha Tin Labour Tribunal, Mr Leung said. He said the delays were unbearably long and as existing laws only provided limited protection, workers might lose some of their legitimate compensation as a result. The system of resolving labour disputes should undergo a comprehensive review to streamline procedures, he said. Labour Department publicity liaison officer Lee Wing-keung said the objective of the law was to encourage workers to report claims for unpaid wages as soon as possible. Usually workers would file their complaints when they failed to receive any salary for two to three months and it would be rare for them to wait for a year before approaching the department, Mr Lee said. A spokesman for the department said two extra courts would be provided in the next financial year, boosting the tribunal's capacity by about 30 per cent.