Worries about the deepening global crisis have prompted more calls for companies to avoid laying off staff. Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen and Louis Pong Wai-yan, chief executive of the Employers' Federation of Hong Kong, both begged firms to try everything else before cutting staff. 'Every layoff affects the individual, his family and all parties involved,' Mr Tang said. 'Companies should treasure their resources, which are their employees. 'In recovering from the economic crisis, those companies that are experienced and have good employees will rebound the quickest. I have liaised with many companies and staff unions, and the message is the same: we are all in the same boat.' Mr Pong asked profitable companies, or those with the resources, to ride out the crisis. If redundancies were necessary, employers and employees needed to discuss the situation, Mr Pong said. The calls came as PCCW moved to allay fears it was getting ready to cut more staff. Group managing director Alex Arena said that there were no more immediate plans for staff layoffs at the telecoms giant. 'There has never been an across-the-board layoff plan,' he said. 'Fewer than 80 permanent job positions have been trimmed as a result of this adjustment exercise.' Despite the reassurances, Leung Ting-to, who heads the PCCW Employees General Union, said the company laid off more than 50 staff in the past few days, including 12 people working for PCCW contractors. Mr Leung expressed concern that the company would use appraisals as an excuse to dismiss more staff. Unions have accused PCCW of quietly and steadily shedding jobs. One worker who was laid off on Thursday said there were rumours that up to 600 contract staff would be sacked next month. Other major employers have so far played down the prospect of future redundancies. CLP Power managing director Betty Yuen So Siu-mai said yesterday there were no plans to lay off employees or cut pay at the city's biggest power supplier. Rather, she said about 80 internships, including for engineering positions, would be made available this year. Vincent Cheng Hoi-chuen, Asia-Pacific chairman of HSBC Holdings, which has already experienced several rounds of layoffs, said questions about whether more jobs would be shed would be addressed when the bank announced its earnings results next month. The government says it is making job creation its top priority. Likely measures include subsidies for internships for graduates and the acceleration of civil service recruitment. Various infrastructure projects have also been fast-tracked. Given the uncertain job market, Ho Sai-chu, who represents employers on the Labour Advisory Board, said talks on minimum-wage legislation should be delayed. Mr Ho said unless a minimum wage was brought in very carefully, it risked being set at too high a level, which could lead to more job losses.