Wed, Jan 15, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Employers, labor groups criticize law

COMPLAINTS Labor groups said that the new Mass Layoff Protection Law was `not workable,' while employers said that it would lead to arguments

By Tsai Ting-I  /  STAFF REPORTER

Industry and labor leaders yesterday both complained that the newly passed Mass Layoff Protection Law would not be as effective as expected and would cause employers unnecessary problems.

The relationship between workers and employers has been close in Taiwan, but the 60-day advance layoff notice would result in disputes between the two parties, said Day Sheng-tong (戴勝通), president of the National Association of Small and Medium-Size Enterprises.

Ho Yian-tang (何燕堂), director-general of the Committee for Action for Labor Legislation, said that the law was meant to merely add a feather in the cap of the President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) administration, but it was "not workable."

The new law, passed on Monday, is based on the draft proposals of the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) and DPP Legislator Lai Chin-lin (賴勁麟). The law affects some 2.26 million workers in companies of more than 30 people.

The law quantifies a "mass layoff" for companies with 30 to 500 employees as one-third of its employees within a 60-day period. For a company with more than 500 employees, a mass layoff is defined as one-fifth of its employees within a 60-day period.

Companies that intend to conduct a mass layoff will have to submit a plan to the CLA and the local government labor affairs departments 60 days in advance. Companies that fail to do so will be fined NT$100,000 to NT$500,000.

The law requires that the proposal lists the number of employees in question, reasons for, dates of, and affected departments, for the planned layoffs.

Ho, however, argued that the law failed to give the government the right to judge whether the reasons for any proposed mass layoffs were permissible, which is more important for workers than advance notification and negotiations.

From January to October last year, about 250,000 people, almost half of the 520,000 people now unemployed, lost their jobs because of their company's closure or restructuring. More than 2,000 workers are involved in disputes as a result of being laid off.

"Companies that decide to lay off employees usually face terrible difficulty.

"Shouldn't the government also pass legislation [concurrent with this law] to help these companies get through their difficulties?" said Chen Cheng-yi (陳正毅), spokesman for the General Chamber of Commerce (全國商總).

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