Wed, Feb 11, 2009 - Page 4 News List

At least 180,000 workers are on unpaid leave: CLA

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

At least 180,000 workers across the nation are on unpaid leave, with those in the high-tech sector the most likely to be given unpaid days off, the Council of Labor Affairs reported yesterday.

The council said the estimate is based on reports on unpaid leave practices that it received from more than 400 companies nationwide between Dec. 23 and Jan. 31.

Since last month, the council has required local enterprises to report the number of their workers on unpaid leave so it can better monitor the impact of falling exports on the labor market.

The council acknowledged that some companies may not have reported workers on unpaid leave to the council, but because the 180,000-worker estimate is similar to the result of a survey conducted last December, the council believes compliance with the reporting system is quite high.

Based on a random survey of companies with more than 200 workers in December, the council estimated that 202,000 workers were being forced to take an average of four days of unpaid leave in that month alone.

The number of workers on full or partial unpaid leave in the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park has reached more than 100,000, accounting for 77 percent of the park’s total work force.

Taiwan’s high-tech, financial and conventional sectors have all been hard hit in the global economic downturn. Some companies, however, tried hard to retain their work forces, using flexible measures such as cutting salaries and putting workers on paid or unpaid leave instead of laying them off.

At a separate setting yesterday, Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟), director of the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Department of Youth Development, warned that the unemployment rate would soar when around 300,000 students graduate in June.

Ryan Wu (吳睿穎), chief operating officer of 1111 Job Bank, told a press conference held by the DPP that an online survey conducted by his organization suggested that 45 percent of college and graduate students leaving school last year were still unable to find first jobs. As around 320,000 graduated last year, Wu said his organization predicted that around 150,000 of them were still out of work.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY RICH CHANG

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