Unionist lawmakers have warned of the likelihood of more strikes and industrial action this year as workers seek to defend their interests amid the economic downturn. Lee Cheuk-yan, lawmaker of the Confederation of Trade Unions, predicted yesterday that the year would be marked by labour problems. 'Workers will not be as tolerant as they were during the Sars outbreak if big entrepreneurs continue to lay off staff ... Further sackings may be strongly opposed,' the lawmaker told an RTHK radio programme. Wong Kwok-kin, lawmaker of the Beijing-friendly Federation of Trade Unions, agreed, noting that many workers faced pay cuts during the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003 'but their salaries were not increased when the economy improved. I wonder if there is any room for further pay cuts in times of a financial tsunami. Workers will react more strongly than before.' About 1,000 airport ground staff staged a three-hour strike late last month against the halving of their annual bonus. The action caused severe disruption to baggage and cargo handling and airside operations. Earlier last year, workers at Vitasoy, Watsons Water, Nestle and Jackel Porter bargained for better pay. All four companies gave in to the strikers' demands. Workers at Watsons Water and Nestle set up unions in September to continue their fight for better pay and work conditions. Mr Lee expected that more workers would go on strike in times of a tough economy, as they saw successful examples in the past year.