Fri, Mar 27, 2009 - Page 12 News List

AU Optronics plans to end unpaid leave policy next month


AU Optronics Corp (友達光電), the world’s third-largest flat panel maker, yesterday said it would end unpaid leave for engineers and office staff starting next month as it expects demand to recover.

AU Optronics would also stop encouraging some factory workers to take a vacation in light of its rebounding factory utilization rate, Hsiao Ya-wen (蕭雅文), a company spokesperson, said by telephone.

“We have seen utilization rebound at some factories recently and workers may not have to arrange more vacations using annual leave they have accumulated over the years,” Hsiao said.

In January, the Hsinchu-based company requested that office workers and engineers take three days of unpaid leave a month because of weak global demand for electronics.

Last week, AU Optronics chief executive Chen Lai-juh (陳來助) told reporters that factory utilization had improved to around 55 percent this quarter, the top end of an earlier projection of between 50 percent and 55 percent. Chen said rising demand for large liquid-crystal-display (LCD) panels had boosted utilization.

“AU Optronics may see the utilization rate recover to more than 60 percent on average, helped primarily by China’s economic-stimulus packages, including subsidized purchases of PCs and TVs in rural areas,” said Daniel Wang (王德善), who tracks the LCD industry for Primasia Securities Co.

The utilization rate at the company’s sixth-generation plants could be the highest, benefiting from recovering demand for TVs, Wang said.

But he doubted the momentum from China would extend into the next two quarters as demand in the US and Europe remained gloomy.

Wang said an increase in orders might not be sufficient to return Taiwanese LCD makers to profitability because panel prices remained lower than most companies’ manufacturing costs.

Meanwhile, Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp (奇美電子), the nation’s second-largest LCD panel supplier, yesterday said fewer of its factory workers and engineers were on unpaid leave as the company had seen an increase in rush orders.

But the Tainan-based company did not plan to end the policy any time soon, it said. Chi Mei asked employees to take unpaid leave in November to cope with plummeting demand.

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