Dozens of gardeners will lose their jobs after terms of eight to 10 years following the government's 'cold-hearted' decision not to renew their contracts in the new year. The 40 horticultural workers of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department received notice on December 13 that their employment was being terminated as a result of outsourcing. The first of their contracts expires on January 15. Even if they find work with the new contractor, the gardeners face the prospect of big pay cuts. Outsourced horticulture workers are paid 40 per cent less than gardeners employed by the civil service, whose monthly wages are between HK$8,500 to HK$8,800. Unionist legislator Leung Yiu-chung said the job terminations were not only against the chief executive's policy of normalising long-term contract jobs, but were cold-hearted because the department was providing no more than the minimum notice requirement. 'The department did not consult the workers at all,' he said. 'They neither put forward any possible arrangement for internal transfer nor have they helped the workers find new jobs.' A spokeswoman said the department would pass on the details of the affected workers to the outsourcing contractor. She said the department also intended to extend the notice of termination to two months so they could keep their jobs until the Lunar New Year. One of those affected said even if she was hired by the contractor, she could not survive on the pay. 'I have three children and my husband is unemployed, I will not be able to support my whole family with just HK$5,000 a month.' Mr Leung and the workers will meet officials today, but the spokeswoman stressed that almost the whole horticulture section had been contracted out. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Construction Industry Employers General Union said many skilled builders are being downgraded in an industry registration to be completed by March. Union chairman Choi Chun-wah said the number of registered skilled workers by October was lower than the number of the semi-skilled, although the former far outnumbered the latter. Among the 200,000 construction workers in Hong Kong, 120,000 are considered skilled while the rest are semi-skilled or general workers. However, by late October, only 52,000 had been registered as skilled while more than 60,000 were designated general workers. Mr Choi said he suspected the discrepancy had arisen because of the harsh requirements for proof of work experience and the complicated registration procedure. The union called for an extension of the registration deadline. All builders in the city are required to provide their personal details to the Construction Workers Registration Authority before they can work on site.