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Manufacturing sector boosts furloughed workers amid weaker global demand

09/18/2023 06:06 PM
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Robotic arms are displayed at the Taipei International Machine Tool Show in March, 2023. CNA file photo
Robotic arms are displayed at the Taipei International Machine Tool Show in March, 2023. CNA file photo

Taipei, Sept. 18 (CNA) The effects of weak global demand on the export-orientated manufacturing sector saw the number of furloughed workers on formal unpaid leave programs in Taiwan rise by 848 to 11,738 from Sept. 7-15, the Ministry of Labor said Monday.

According to the MOL, 712 of the 848 newly furloughed individuals worked in the manufacturing sector, for a total of 9,879 workers on unpaid leave programs as of Sept. 15.

The number of employers with furlough programs in place also increased from 601 to 642, with manufacturers accounting for 296 of the total, the MOL said.

Speaking with CNA, Wang Chin-jung (王金蓉), deputy head of the MOL's Labor Conditions and Equal Employment Division, said the metal and electric machinery industry saw the highest increase in employees on unpaid leave programs, with 15 more employers furloughing an additional 629 workers.

Industry by industry

Wang said that a bicycle component maker implemented a furlough program for the first time, putting 140 workers on unpaid leave.

Meanwhile, a vacuum equipment manufacturer added 170 workers to the total of 180 on unpaid leave, Wang said.

According to Wang, both manufacturers cited declining orders as the reason for implementing furlough programs.

Despite the increase in furloughed workers in the industry as a whole, Wang said, a lamp producer stopped its unpaid leave plan ahead of schedule by putting about 150 workers back to production lines in the week as the company received short-term orders.

However, it remained too early to say whether the lamp maker's improved operations will continue, Wang added.

In the information and electronics industry, the number of furloughed workers rose 151 in the week, with an optoelectronics maker reporting that it placed about 70 workers on unpaid leave, Wang said.

Wang added that the MOL had provided the latest furlough data in the manufacturing sector to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) to help the ministry better understand industry conditions.

Service sector

On the other hand, the service sector remained resilient and experienced slight fluctuations in furlough worker numbers amid strong domestic demand in the post-COVID-19 era, Wang said.

The number of furloughed workers in the retail and wholesale industry rose to 941 as of Sept. 15 from 820 on Sept. 7, while the number in the lodging and food/beverage stayed unchanged at 75, the MOL said.

In addition, the support service industry, which is comprised of travel agencies, reported 497 furloughed workers, down from 501 a week earlier, the MOL added.

The ministry updates its furloughed worker data on the 1st, 8th, 16th and 24th of every month, and reports the number of employees placed on furlough by companies registered with the MOL.

Most of the enterprises implementing furlough programs are small enterprises that employ fewer than 50 people.

Unpaid leave programs typically last for less than three months, with employees taking five to eight days of unpaid leave per month, according to the MOL.

(By Chang Hsiung-feng and Frances Hunang)


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