Thu, Jul 16, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Unpaid leave dropping

NEAR THE END Views differed on whether a government plan that prioritizes employing local workers should be sustained, as doing so could undermine competitiveness

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The number of employees forced to take unpaid leave had dropped to 79,967 as of yesterday, two thirds down from the peak of 238,000 people in March, Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) told a business group gathering yesterday.

“We believe the nation’s unpaid leave crisis is near the end,” Wang said, adding that rush orders from China had stabilized and become short-term orders for local manufacturers.

Wang said the unpaid leave situation should show further improvement next quarter once the local economy turns around.

To address rising unemployment, which stood at 5.8 percent in May, Wang said the council had provided job matching services and on-the-job training as well as subsidies to unemployed workers to bolster the social safety net. It also encouraged local companies to hire local talent rather than migrant workers, although each local worker costs on average NT$10,000 more than a migrant worker.

As a result of the economic downturn, the nation’s number of migrant workers dropped to 169,000 in June from 206,000 in October, she said, adding that the council would provide measures to revamp and tighten the nation’s migrant worker policy.

But Kinpo Group (金仁寶集團) chairman Rock Hsu (許勝雄), also a vice chairman at the Chinese National Federation of Industries (工業總會), said he opposed tightening the policy on migrant workers.

“In the long run, the nation should relax the policy to ensure that the local manufacturing sector remains competitive,” he said. “In the short term, businesses are willing to support the government’s plan to address the unemployment situation by hiring local talent.”

Wang said the unemployment rate would “rise” this summer as college graduates enter the job market.

On Tuesday, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) said unemployment was likely to move above 6 percent this month, before bottoming out after September.

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