The number of furloughed workers in Taiwan jumped by more than 2,000 in the first two weeks of this month as businesses were hurt by a general slowdown caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Labor said yesterday.
As of Sunday, 3,835 workers at 109 companies were on unpaid leave, up from 1,662 workers at 41 businesses as of Feb. 29, ministry figures showed.
Most of the new companies that had workers go on unpaid leave after reaching labor-management agreements had fewer than 50 workers, and they generally had their workers take off five to eight days per month.
Screen grab from Coast Guard Administration’s Facebook page
They were generally in the hotel, restaurant, retail and tourism sectors — those most effected by the outbreak, Department of Labor Standards and Equal Employment Deputy Director Huang Wei-chen (黃維琛) said.
Just over 1,000 workers in the hospitality sector were on unpaid leave in the first two weeks of this month, when 26 retailers, 12 travel agencies, 15 hotels and 11 restaurants launched unpaid leave programs.
However, it was the metal/engineering sector that registered the highest number of furloughed workers in the first two weeks, at 1,491, due to disruptions in supply of components from China, Huang said.
The tourism and restaurant sectors were hit hard by a fall in inbound tourists due to travel bans or restrictions imposed by the government and other countries around the world to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Taiwan requires travelers from dozens of countries where there have been outbreaks to undergo 14-day self-quarantine upon arrival, which has deterred overseas visitors.
In other news, the Coast Guard Administration on March 5 introduced fictional characters belonging to what it calls the “epidemic prevention boy band” (防疫少年團), or “Be The Standby” in English, on Facebook as part of its public awareness efforts to combat COVID-19.
The agency said a staff member came up with the idea, adding that it was inspired by the South Korean boy band BTS.
“Be The Standby” includes characters personifying the Coast Guard Administration, the National Police Agency, the National Immigration Agency, the Customs Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and the Ministry of Health and Welfare, as well as one dressed in protective clothing who represents medical personnel.
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