Friday, October 2, 2015

Numbers of employees laid off, on unpaid leave rising

Numbers of employees laid off, on unpaid leave rising

By Huang Pang-ping  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Labor Chen Hsiung-wen attends a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times

Amid reports of technology firms cutting jobs or forcing employees to go on furlough, Minister of Labor Chen Hsiung-wen (陳雄文) yesterday said that numbers of workers being laid off or put on unpaid leave have risen, but that the figure is still fall far below that of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, adding that the ministry has prepared NT$20 billion (US$603.72 million) for an employment stability fund.
Chen also said that adjustments to the minimum wage would be unlikely.
The legal monthly minimum wage is NT$20,008 and the hourly wage NT$120. Citing a rapid decline in economic stability both domestically and abroad, the ministry’s minimum wage review committee on Aug. 12 announced that it would hold a meeting on the minimum wage next month after observing economic conditions in the third and fourth quarters.
Reports have said that because of intensifying competition from China’s growing manufacturing sector, it would hard to secure GDP growth of 1 percent, especially in optoelectronics, panel and cellphone exports. Although large-scale layoffs and unpaid leave have occurred mostly in the technology industry, it is beginning to affect traditional industries, such as some screw manufacturers in the nation’s south, Chen said.
Until August, more than 11,000 people had been laid off, an increase of 4,000 from last year. Moreover, in August, 9,000 people applied for unemployment benefits for the first time, which was 4,000 more than in July, according to official figures.
Chen yesterday said that after the financial crisis, businesses were required to report numbers of employees on “unpaid leave” in 2009.
In the first half of the year, 239,000 people from 903 businesses were on unpaid vacation.
However, until the middle of last month, only 783 people from 19 businesses had been reported to be on unpaid leave, suggesting the situation is stabilizing, Chen said.
There were 283 cases reported of dismissals involving a large number of employees, totalling 26,000 workers. However, official figures showed that only 11,000 people were dismissed in a total of 226 cases, Chen said.
Chen said that following the financial crisis, the then-Council of Labor Affairs prepared NT$30 billion to help unemployed people, and this year, the ministry has prepared NT$20 billion for its employment stability fund.
Separately, Minister of Science and Technology Shyu Jyuo-min (徐爵民) said during a question-and-answer session at the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee that in science parks nationwide, two businesses are sending their employees on unpaid leave.
Shyu said that 97 employees at the Southern Taiwan Science Park are on unpaid leave from last month to next month, and 94 workers from Central Taiwan Science Park were on unpaid leave from July to last month, while Hsinchu Science Park sent 73 employees on unpaid leave in May, August and last month, adding that a private firm has laid off 31 employees.
Additional reporting by Su Fang-ho

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