Sat, Oct 29, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Everlight drops its furlough plan amid criticism

Staff Writer, with CNA

Everlight Electronics Co (億光電子), the world’s largest supplier of LED lights and lighting components, announced yesterday that it had scrapped a plan to send its workers on unpaid leave.

The company said in a statement that it was “deeply sorry” for the anxieties it had caused.

The announcement came in the wake of strong public criticism of Everlight’s furlough plan, which was scheduled to begin next month as a means of coping with slow demand amid a global economic downturn.

Critics have highlighted that Everlight chairman Robert Yeh (葉寅夫) was recently able to donate NT$100 million (US$3.35 million) to his alma mater, National Taipei University of Technology.

They have also questioned the necessity of the furlough plan in light of the company’s profitability.

Everlight posted pre-tax profits of NT$538 million in the first quarter of this year and NT$425.86 million in the second quarter.

In response to Everlight’s decision, Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) praised the company’s willingness to “heed the voices of society” and act in the best interest of its workers.

Wang reaffirmed the government’s commitment to protecting the rights of workers, saying that the council would never condone “unnecessary” unpaid leave schemes by companies in good financial condition.

In addition, Wang said the council would look into the legality of a plan by notebook computer maker Inventec Corp (英業達) to lay off more than 400 workers.

Under the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), a company must present proof of a decline in business before it can lay off workers, she said.

Meanwhile, Cabinet spokesman Philip Yang (楊永明) said the government would continue to closely monitor domestic and international economic changes, as well as the employment situation.

The government would ensure employers comply with the law in the event of a furlough, Yang said.

For example, employers must negotiate with workers and obtain their consent before sending them on unpaid leave, and should make sure that the workers’ monthly income is not lower than the minimum wage, he said.

Employers are also required to report to authorities about their furlough plans, he added.

The number of companies in Taiwan’s three major science parks asking employees to take paid leave has dropped to 13 for next month, compared with 28 for last month, the National Science Council said yesterday, citing the results of a recent poll it conducted.

Regarding unpaid leave, it is not as prevalent as the media has reported, the council said, adding that only three companies in the science parks have resorted to it.

So far, two companies in the Southern Taiwan Science Park have implemented an unpaid leave system that will affect an estimated 180 employees, Southern Taiwan Science Park deputy director--general Lin Wei-cheng (林威呈) said.

Most of the companies asking employees to take paid or unpaid leave are in the solar energy and LED industries, Lin said.

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