Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Number of unemployed may hit 1.3 million: Tsai

HEADING FOR A RECORDThe DPP chairperson panned the government for its broken promises and ineffective policies at a demonstration in Taipei

By Loa Iok-sin and Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen, second right, lies on a Taipei street during a demonstration organized by the party’s youth department and other youth organizations to protest high unemployment yesterday.

PHOTO: LO PEI-DER, TAIPEI TIMES

Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) warned yesterday that the number of unemployed in the nation may hit a record high of 1.3 million in June if the government does not come up with effective policies.

“The latest official number is 600,000 unemployed as of last month and that number is likely to go up to 700,000 this month,” Tsai said during a demonstration to protest high unemployment in Taipei yesterday.

“But don’t forget that among the 300,000 people who graduated from university this year, 40 percent to 50 percent of them are still unemployed,” she said. “With many people currently on unpaid leave and 300,000 more graduating in May and June, the number of unemployed will soon hit a record high of 1.3 million.”

Tsai slammed the government for being incapable of coming up with effective policies to combat the problem. She said the government has made many promises and presented many policies to create more jobs in the 10 months since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office in May — but none of the promises have been fulfilled and none of the policies have been effective.

“More than 680,000 jobs — they promised — should have been created if the policies had been effective and we wouldn’t have such a serious unemployment issue,” Tsai said.

Huang Hsin-che (黃鑫哲), a 20-year-old college freshman, said he is already worried about getting a job.

“At this time last year, I was getting ready to head to Kenting [墾丁] for the Spring Scream [Rock Festival],” Huang said, “But this year, I want to scream at Ma Ying-jeou: ‘I want a job.’”

Huang said it is hard to even find a part-time job.

Another college senior from Tainan said he was frightened by the fact that he would graduate in June and may not be able to find a job.

“It’s not just about being unemployed, it’s also about how am I going to pay for my NT$100,000 [US$2,900] student loan after I graduate,” he said.

In related news, at a separate setting yesterday Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) said “internships count as jobs, too” in response to critics who say a sizable number of the job openings the government has promised to provide were short-term internships.

The Executive Yuan has called on various agencies, including the council, the Ministry of Education (MOE), the Council of Agriculture, the National Youth Commission and the Coast Guard Administration to provide 341,000 job openings this year. The government has also promised to provide jobs for 40,000 people at four job fairs to be held in various parts of the country.

However, 33,500 of the job openings under the education ministry are internships and only available to this year’s college graduates.

Faced with criticism that the government’s promise of 40,000 job openings would not be met, Wang said: “The government will definitely fulfill its promise.”

“Even though the 40,000 job openings under the Ministry of Education are internships at privately owned firms, the costs are paid for by the government. So the nature of the job opening is actually the same as a civil servant position,” she said at a press conference.

Son Yu-lian (孫友聯), secretary-general of the Taiwan Labour Front, criticized government officials for playing a numbers game.

Saying that mass job fairs were like carnivals that attract job seekers who “go from being hopeful to being disappointed and then finally give up,” Son proposed the government bolster local employment service centers, so that people do not have to travel so far to find a job.

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