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Number of furloughed workers hits 3-year high

2019/01/02 16:41:18

Taipei, Jan. 2 (CNA) The number of workers on unpaid leave in Taiwan as of the end of December 2018 hit a three-year high, at a time when the local economy is showing signs of growing at a slower pace, data released by the Ministry of Labor (MOL) showed Wednesday.

As of Dec. 31, the number of employees on unpaid leave was 3,521, up from 887 on Dec. 15. The latest figures are the highest since the end of December 2015, when the number stood at 4,756, the MOL said.

The MOL said the spike in the number of furloughed workers was caused by a large-sized car maker introducing an unpaid leave program, though the ministry declined to identify the company.

However, local media reported the car maker was Kuozui Motors Ltd., a joint venture between Taiwan's Hotai Motor Co., Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. and Hino Motors Ltd., which makes passenger cars and trucks under the names Toyota and Hino.

Kuozui Motors' unpaid leave program affected more than 2,000 workers, the reports said.

After the company's inventory of passenger cars in Taiwan rose, Kuozui Motors was forced to adjust its inventory in December and opted to cut the number of working days by three to five days a month, the reports said.

Citing Kuozui Motors, the reports said unpaid leave at the car maker only affected workers on small-sized car production lines, with truck operations not impacted.

In the second half of December, a total of 25 employers introduced unpaid leave nationwide, up by two from the first half of the month, according to the data.

During the second half of the month, two employers ended unpaid leave programs but four others launched new programs, bringing the total to 25.

The government releases data on unpaid leave twice a month to provide an update on labor market conditions and the domestic economic climate.

As of the end of December, the metal/electrical sector in Taiwan reported the highest number of furloughed workers with 2,944 at 10 companies, Kuozui Motors being one of those employers, the reports said.

In November, Taiwan's jobless rate stood at 3.70 percent, down 0.05 percentage points from a month earlier.

The Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said in December that while the pace of economic growth is moderating, the local job market remains stable.

In November, the DGBAS cut the estimate for Taiwan's economic growth in 2018 by 0.03 percentage points from its August forecast to 2.66 percent and also downgraded its forecast for 2019 by 0.14 percentage points to 2.41 percent.

(By Yu Haiso-han and Frances Huang)