Security guards working in The Link Management's 180 car parks and shopping centres are assured of keeping their 48-hour week after their employers - contract operators that are hired by The Link - dropped all plans to extend it to 72 hours. After weeks of protests against the proposal, the city's two main unions - the Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) and the Confederation of Trade Unions (CTU) - separately held meetings with The Link to resolve the dispute. Workers had opposed the plan to extend each shift from eight to 12 hours, which they said would lead to job cuts. A day before the talks, The Link Management had announced that the hours of guards at car parks would not be extended. Yesterday, it said contract operators would also scrap a similar plan for guards at shopping centres that was already being implemented. The seven shopping centres in Tseung Kwan O that had started the 12-hour shift this month would revert soon to eight-hour days, it said. Because of the row over hours, The Link's new contracts with its car-park operators that were to have taken effect this month had been suspended. With a resolution reached, the company urged operators to let staff keep their jobs. A spokesman for The Link Management said it did not expect operators to carry out 'major reductions' in staff numbers. It was feared the work-extension plan would have led to half of the 1,200 guards in car parks, and 1,200 of the 3,000 employees in shopping centres, losing their jobs. The unions hailed The Link's latest move. 'We think The Link's decision is a good sign of its corporate responsibility,' said Tsang Chi-yan, spokesman of the Buildings Management and Security Workers General Union under the CTU. FTU vice-president Leung Fu-wah said the union had set up a concern group to monitor the employment of all contract workers in The Link's premises. 'From now on, security guards and other workers can file a complaint through us if they are fired unreasonably or receive an unreasonably low salary. We will bring the issue to The Link,' he said. There are about 100,000 security guards in the city. Seventy per cent of them, mostly in private housing estates, work 12-hour shifts, which unions say is exhausting and deprives them of family time. Private owners' corporations tended to favour the12-hour shift over eight hours because it saved them a quarter of their labour cost, Mr Tsang of the security workers' union said. 'We are planning to launch a campaign over the next two years to advocate the eight-hour shift,' he said. 'Meanwhile, we are also actively promoting the legislation of the minimum wage. 'With a fixed minimum hourly payment, there will be no cost difference for around-the-clock security work and we believe more private property owners will turn to the [system of] three shifts a day that can provide them with better service.'