Sat, Dec 27, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Lawmakers pan training scheme

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Members of the Taiwan Association for Victims of Occupational Injuries perform a skit outside the Council of Labor Affairs in Taipei to demand that it establish a hotline for reporting cases of work exhaustion, or job burnout.

PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

Lawmakers remain skeptical at the Council of Labor Affairs’ (CLA) plan to subsidize on-the-job skills training, saying yesterday that the subsidy did not provide enough incentive for workers, who would rather find a second job instead.

Recently, the soaring number of workers on unpaid leave has prompted the council to propose a plan to fund employers to organize on-the-job training during slowdowns in production. The NT$15.97 billion (US$50 million) plan was approved by the Cabinet on Thursday and will take effect in February.

While lawmakers agree that, because of the economic downturn, now is a good time for employers to provide on-the-job training in order to prepare their workers for when the economy revives, legislators said the plan was unrealistic and did not provide enough incentives for the workers.

“With [pay of] only NT$100 an hour and a maximum of NT$10,000 a month for six months, workers would rather find a second job and earn more money,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said.

The plan also provides insufficient incentives for employers, who would decide to lay off workers instead, he said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ho Tsai-feng (侯彩鳳) said the plan “would never work out.”

Although the plan will subsidize each worker’s wages up to NT$10,000 a month, in order to receive that much subsidy the worker would have to be in training for 100 hours a month, she said. That means a full-time worker would only be working a half to two days a week, she said.

“It’s not as high as NT$10,000, the number is deceptive,” she said.

Ho also questioned whether the council had enough funding for the plan, which is being financed from the Employment Insurance Fund and the Employment Security Fund.

“With less than NT$20 billion left in the Employment Security Fund, the council has already made mistakes in its calculations,” she said. “The Cabinet should use a special budget to finance the plan in order for it to really help workers on unpaid leave.”

As the plan will not be effective until February, and as it has been predicted that by then the number of unemployed will rise to 600,000 or 700,000, it would be “trying to solve an immediate problem with a long-term solution,” she said.

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