The Ministry of Economic Affairs offered yesterday to help Formosa Plastics Group (FPG, 台塑集團) obtain the labor it needs to conduct inspections and maintenance of its accident-plagued petrochemical plants, following the company’s complaint of a manpower shortage.
According to Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥), local experts and workers would be given priority when the hiring decisions are made.
“The government will certainly provide FPG with assistance to help it complete the inspections within the required period,” Shih said.
The government has ordered FPG to suspend operations at the 66 plants in its naphtha cracker complex in Mailiao (麥寮), Yunlin County, in stages within a year for inspection and maintenance, after the complex was hit by its seventh fire in a year on Saturday.
FPG officials said on Wednesday that the large number of personnel needed for the work would pose a huge challenge and that the company was planning to recruit foreign workers for the task.
The Council of Labor Affairs reportedly will meet on Monday to discuss FPG’s application for foreign workers, but Shih said he had no knowledge of this.
Formosa Petrochemical Corp (台塑石化), an FPG affiliate at whose plants four of the seven fires occurred, said yesterday it would shut its Mailiao facilities for safety inspections in stages to meet government demands.
Its shares finally stopped falling after a 13 percent plunge over three consecutive days, rising 0.32 percent to end at NT$94.2 yesterday.
Shares of FPG’s three other core affiliates were mixed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday, amid investors’ concerns over their profitability in months ahead.
Nan Ya Plastics Corp (南亞塑膠) saw its stock rise 0.71 percent to NT$71, while Formosa Plastics Corp’s (台塑) shares were down 2.87 percent to NT$91.4 and Formosa Chemicals and Fibre Corp (台灣化纖) fell 2.26 percent to NT$86.6.