Legislators yesterday slammed a plan by LED chip tester and packager Everlight Electronics Co (億光電子) to send its workers on unpaid leave, particularly in view of its chairman’s huge donation to his alma mater earlier in the week.
Everlight chairman Robert Yeh (葉寅夫) on Wednesday donated NT$100 million (US$3.32 million) to National Taipei University of Technology for a new building — the same day he announced plans to implement unpaid leave for the company’s workers.
“If [Yeh] can donate that much money to the university, why should his workers be sent on unpaid leave?” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) asked during a legislative session.
Everlight said its employees would be asked to take two to three days of unpaid leave next month and five days in December. The move is aimed at facilitating inventory adjustment and riding out a period of slow demand in the last quarter of the year, the company said.
Everlight reported pre-tax profits of NT$538 million in the first quarter of this year and NT$425.86 million in the second quarter. Its third-quarter revenues are forecast to decline by 10 percent from the previous quarter because of weakening market demand, but the company said last month that third-quarter margins could remain at the same level as in the second quarter because of cost-cutting measures.
Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) told lawmakers the council would investigate Everlight’s plan after it receives the company’s report.
DPP Legislator Chen Chieh-ju (陳節如) asked Wang how companies could be prevented from “enforcing unpaid leave given that there are many ways of cutting pay.”
Wang said the council would check 10,000 companies by the end of the year and any business found implementing unpaid leave without the consent of its workers would be penalized in accordance with the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).
The council would “forcefully intervene” in cases where a profitable company that does not need to adopt cost-cutting measures forces its employees to take unpaid leave, reduces work hours or cuts pay, Wang said.
She said because of diminishing orders, three high-tech manufacturers had enforced unpaid leave, which has affected about 1,200 people.
The current situation is “still under control to a certain extent,” with counseling groups employed to help stabilize the career market and make more short-term job opportunities available, she said.
Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) has instructed senior government officials at a Cabinet meeting to closely monitor this emerging phenomenon and to suggest measures to alleviate the situation.
The Council of Labor Affairs and the Council for Economic Planning and Development were also charged by Wu to propose job enhancement measures, Government Information Office Minister Philip Yang (楊永明) quoted Wu as saying at a press conference.
Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) said that so far, unpaid leave had been observed at only a few companies.
He said the slowdown had been tough in several industries, including DRAM chips and flat panels, but unpaid leave had not been adopted across the board in these sectors.
A total of 230,000 workers were sent on unpaid leave during the 2008 financial crisis, according to Council of Labor Affairs data.
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan
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