Fri, Jul 29, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Formosa eyes Singapore technicians

By Jason Tan  /  Staff Reporter

Following a string of fires at its plants, Formosa Plastics Group (台塑集團, FPG) said it hoped to employ Singaporean technicians to manage the problem-ridden pipelines at its Mailiao (麥寮) petrochemical complex in Yunlin County.

The group said it applied with the Council of Labor Affairs last month for 2,500 technicians to oversee pipeline maintenance and services work — a move that has stirred controversy that it favors foreign workers over Taiwanese.

Group vice chairwoman Susan Wang (王瑞華) yesterday afternoon called a press conference to address the matter, saying that foreign-certified technicians were needed to complement a shortage of talent in the nation.

Also present at the press conference were Formosa Plastics Corp (台塑) chairman Lee Chih-tsuen (李志村), Formosa Petrochemical Corp (台塑石化) chairman Wilfred Wang (王文潮) and Formosa Chemicals and Fibre Corp (台灣化纖) president Hong Fu-yuan (洪福源).

The three companies along with Nan Ya Plastics Corp (南亞塑膠) are the group’s four major firms.

Susan Wang said that the foreign technicians could also help with the group’s plans to set up a training center to train and nurture local technicians.

In view of the recent mishaps, the group has increased its pool of technicians to more than 11,000, from about 3,000 earlier this year.

However, the number is still short of its target, with the group saying it needs another 2,500 local and foreign technicians.

FPG said the Mailiao complex’s location along the coast makes it a difficult environment to operate in, as its plants’ equipment are exposed to a high degree of erosion.

The group has engaged Singaporean experts for on-site inspection and advice on technological and material improvements to manage the complex’s pipelines, which span more than 3,000km, according to a statement issued late on Wednesday.

The group has allocated NT$12 billion (US$416 million) for spending until June 2014 to renew, repaint, service and restructure 1,063 pipelines that span about 1,266km, the statement said.

It became embroiled in yet another industrial safety issue after a fire broke out at the Mailiao complex on Tuesday — the fourth fire at the site this year.

In May, six plants owned by Nan Ya and Formosa Plastics at the complex were struck by two fires. County authorities last month suspended those plants’ operations and ordered safety checks.

While two of Nan Ya’s ethylene glycol plants and one Formosa Plastics factory were allowed to resume production earlier this month, the group now face further delays in resuming operations at other plants after the county government said on Wednesday that it would postpone a review meeting scheduled for today following the latest fire.

The county government did not say when the meeting would be rescheduled.

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