Tue, Sep 12, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Threat of strike concerns businesses

NEGATIVE IMPACT Reacting to reports that the Shih camp might stage a nationwide strike, businesses and academics said it would exact a heavy toll on the local economy

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Business leaders and academics yesterday called on the campaign office of Shih Ming-teh (施明德) to refrain from staging a nationwide strike, saying that the move could adversely affect the domestic economy.

Shih, former chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), is currently leading a round-the-clock sit-in protest in front of the Presidential Office on Ketagalan Boulevard calling on President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) ouster.

Shih's camp said yesterday that it would not rule out the possibility of launching a large-scale strike next month if the president continues to disregard their appeal for him to step down.

"They should not go on strike ... The entire nation will fall victim to the cause ? I'm not joking," said Lee Cheng-chia (李成家), chairman of Taiwan Federation of Industry (工業協進會), during a telephone interview.

He said that the country was already struggling to improve its economy, and it would be unwise to make a move that would not benefit anybody.

Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆) stressed yesterday that the ministry and business communities strongly oppose a strike as the country should exert more effort in improving the domestic economy.

The minister said that although the local economy is forecast to expand by 4.28 percent this year, more efforts are needed to maintain this growth momentum against the backdrop of a changing global economy.

A strike would dampen already weak domestic consumption, which was cited as the major factor that would cap the nation's GDP growth this year, said Chen Cheng-yi (陳正毅), spokesman of the General Chamber of Commerce (全國商總).

Wu Chung-shu (吳中書), a research fellow at Academia Sinica, said it would be hard to estimate the extent of the financial impact of a strike as it was not yet clear how long the strike might be held and which sectors might be involved.

He said that if the financial sector were affected, forcing the closure of the stock market, brokerages would immediately lose a considerable amount of handling fees considering the daily turnover of tens of billions of dollars.

The cost would be reflected on a dwindling national income, he added.

Wu suggested that protesters adopt legal means to voice their dissent to maintain social and economic stability.

Meanwhile, DPP Legislator Yu Jan-daw (余政道) estimated that the country could post losses of NT$10.4 billion (US$316 million) if the strike were to go on for eight hours and a whopping NT$32.58 billion in losses if it were to be staged for a whole day.

A high-ranking representative of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (中小企業協會) yesterday expressed his disappointment at the ongoing political instability and wrangling.

"Most businesses have relocated to China or Southeast Asia, and it is the ordinary people who have stayed behind that are suffering," he said on condition of anonymity.

"Taiwan will lose its manufacturing power and competitive edge if the situation worsens," he said, adding that it could impact on manufacturers' credibility.

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