Tue, Oct 28, 2008 - Page 3 News List

CLA programs for boosting jobs met with skepticism

HELP WANTEDDPP caucus whip William Lai questioned the council on whether the plan would be effective during this time of economic instability

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lawmakers yesterday expressed skepticism about the Council of Labor Affairs’ (CLA) programs for boosting employment during the legislature’s Health, Environment, Social Welfare and Labor Committee meeting yesterday.

On Wednesday, the council announced details of its “Get to work immediately” plan, which would invite privately run companies to hire Taiwanese workers who have been jobless for three or more consecutive months to work at their companies for a maximum period of six months.

These companies would then be entitled to a council subsidy of NT$10,000 per month for each newly hired worker.

“The plan is only effective for six months, is it really able to solve the problem of high unemployment rates?” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) said.

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

Lai pointed out that last month the unemployment rate hit 4.27 percent, or about 464,000 people, and that 7,106 companies closed down. He questioned the council on whether the plan would be effective during this time of economic slowdown, saying that workers would have “no work to get to.”

DPP Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) agreed with Lai, adding that the plan only “boosted employment rates in the short term” without considering whether these workers would lose their jobs again after the six-month period was up.

Lai also questioned the council on whether some companies would fire existing workers just so they could hire jobless workers in order to qualify for the subsidy.

OPPOSITION

In response, CLA Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) said the council would prevent this from happening by examining the companies’ labor insurance records to determine whether the position was newly created or was the result of firing existing workers.

Lai and several other DPP legislators said that if companies hired handicapped workers for 20 hours a week and paid the minimum wage of NT$95 per hour, companies could potentially profit NT$2,400 a month by paying NT$7,600 in monthly salaries while receiving NT$10,000 in subsidy.

Wang replied by saying that the program was only applicable to workers who earned at least NT$17,280 per month, which was the minimum monthly wage.

Lai and DPP Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋菫) said the council was trying to “put money in its own pockets” by taking NT$3,000 from the Employment Security Fund (就業安定基金) for each jobless worker hired to cover for administrative fees.

Wang explained that the NT$3,000 was a maximum limit, and that the council would only be reimbursed for how much it actually spent.

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