Flat panel firm confirms employees will be sent on furlough

Taipei, Nov. 6 (CNA) Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. (????), one of Taiwan's leading flat panel suppliers, confirmed Friday that it had asked its employees to take unpaid leave due to a supply glut in the global flat screen industry. Confirming local media reports, the company said the furloughs will begin Nov. 10 and continue until the end of December next year. The reports said the furloughs are likely to affect some 3,000 employees of Chunghwa Picture Tubes, with most of them taking one or two days of unpaid leave per week, but the company did not confirm those estimates. The furloughs will be implemented to avoid layoffs at a time when global demand for flat screens is weak, and will be reviewed every month, the Taoyuan-based company said. It said it was planning to inform the Taoyuan City government later in the day about the 14-month furlough plan and will also report to the city about its monthly reviews of the measure. However, Pan Hung-lin (???), head of Taoyuan City's Labor Department, said furloughs are usually approved for a maximum period of only three months at a time and his department will have to obtain the details of Chunghwa Picture Tubes' plan. The city government will do its best to protect the welfare of the company's employees, he said. The global flat panel industry has been suffering as result of a weak global economy, and shipments have been affected by falling demand for consumer electronics devices such as smartphones and tablet computers, according to Chunghwa Picture Tubes. Under such unfavorable circumstances, the company said, it had no choice but to initiate a furlough plan to cut costs as its bottom line has been seriously eroded. Chunghwa Picture Tubes registered a loss per share of NT$0.36 in the first half of the year, compared with NT$0.01 in earnings per share in same period of last year. The company announced earlier this week that it was suspending production at its 4.5-generation plant in Longtan District in Taoyuan from mid-November due to a supply glut. Before that announcement, Chunghwa Picture Tubes said it had agreed to sell its 4th generation plant in Bade in Taoyuan to Giantplus Technology Co. (??), another Taiwanese flat panel maker, for NT$1.8 billion. (By Pan Chi-i, Chiu Chun-ching and Frances Huang)