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Tue, Jun 05, 2001 - Page 4 News List

Newspaper to pay salaries piecemeal

FINANCIAL TROUBLES A national evening newspaper in financial difficulty plans to pay its staff in fortnightly installments this month for the second time this year

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Independence Evening Post (自立晚報) will release May salaries in two installments to help it through its ongoing financial difficulties, the paper said Sunday.

This is the second time this year the paper -- the oldest evening newspaper in Taiwan, founded in 1947 -- has been forced to adjust salary payments in order to deal with financial woes. In February the Post paid out salaries in two installments.

While the announcement has intensified worries among staff about the paper's financial troubles and job security, Wang Shih-chien (王世堅), president of the newspaper, brushed aside rumors that the paper would be closing down or layoffs were in the works.

"To tackle the financial difficulties, we were compelled to make this change in payments, but I will continue to keep operations going," Wang said.

But Wang, who took over the newspaper's operations in October, said he felt discouraged because "employees never understand the difficulties of managers." He also said that criticism from the staff had led him to reconsider why he works so hard to solve the paper's problems.

"I hope the staff can work together to get through this time of crisis, and not to disseminate incorrect news outside the office," Wang said.

Union representatives have expressed their willingness to negotiate with company officials to find ways to keep the paper running, but they also want assurances to "safeguard the staff's benefits."

The union plans to soon propose other measures in lieu of the delayed salary payments.

On Sunday, the newspaper posted a notice that said it would issue May pay checks in two portions -- half today and the other half on June 19.

In addition to the delayed payments, the newspaper in April cut staff salaries by 15 percent.

With nearly 300 employers, the paper requires NT$36 million a month to keep running, and it has incurred a monthly loss of NT$15 million.

The Independence Evening Post was the first evening paper in Taiwan to advocate "independence from political parties." In its 53-year history, the paper has often supported dissidents and non-KMT politicians.

After a financial crisis in 1995 the paper was taken over by KMT Taipei City Councilor Chen Cheng-chung (陳政忠), who led the paper down a pro-KMT path.

The paper turned pro-DPP after Wang took over the company.

Affected by Taiwan's economic slump, various newspapers have been having operational difficulties. Following the financial crisis at the Taiwan Daily (台灣日報) last month, the China Times (中國時報) -- one of the leading newspapers -- also decided to lay off staff to reduce expenses.

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