Although the number of people on unpaid leave continues to decline, labor groups expressed skepticism yesterday as to whether the unemployment situation has indeed improved.
The latest job statistics announced by the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) showed that the number of workers on unpaid leave had decreased from 144,565 people in the middle of last month to 126,175 people at the end of the month. The number of companies that have asked workers to take unpaid leave had also decreased from 855 in middle of the month to 848 companies at the end of the month.
Council officials said they saw declines in the number of people on unpaid leave in all parts of the country, adding that they expected the situation to continue to improve. Officials predicted even larger decreases in the number of workers on unpaid leave this month, saying the decline would be caused by the expiration of unpaid-leave contracts between workers and their management at the end of the month.
However, Son Yu-lian (孫友聯), secretary-general of the Taiwan Labour Front, was skeptical about the rosy picture that the council has been painting.
Son said that although the number of workers on unpaid leave was declining, many of those workers have actually become unemployed after being on unpaid leave for a period of time.
“The number of workers on unpaid leave is decreasing, but the situation has not necessarily improved,” he said.
Son said many workers have been on unpaid leave for so long that they have given up on being called back to work and therefore found other means to support themselves through the economic downturn.
The CLA said on Wednesday that the number of people receiving benefits had surged to a record high of 130,000 last month.
Unemployment benefits last month totaled NT$2.5 billion (US$76.26 million), an all-time high, which was attributed to the implementation of the newly amended Employment Insurance Act (就業保險法)and the fact that there were comparatively more workdays in the month, and therefore more time for applications to be submitted.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA