Number of furloughed workers in Taiwan down over 3,000

The number of workers in Taiwan on unpaid leave fell in the first two weeks of January by more than 3,000 after several manufacturers ended their unpaid leave programs, statistics released by the government showed Monday.

According to data compiled by the Ministry of Labor, the number of furloughed workers totaled 1,180 as of mid-January, down 3,576 from the end of December.

The ministry said that in the first two weeks of January, 23 employers ended their unpaid leave programs, while three others began unpaid leave programs.

As a result, the number of companies with employees on unpaid leave fell from 57 at the end of December to 37 in mid-January. Most of them had workforces of less than 50 people.

Of the 37 companies, 21 were in the export-oriented electronics that has been hurt by a steep decline in exports due to weakening global demand. In 2015, Taiwan's exports dipped to a six-year low of US$280.48 billion.

Among the employers who ended their furlough programs during the first half of the month were flat panel supplier Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. (中華映管), which had 2,515 people on unpaid leave, and Chien Shing Stainless Steel Co. (千豐不銹鋼) which had 131 employees on unpaid leave.

Meanwhile, the number of furloughed workers in the Hsinchu Science Park, one of Taiwan's most important high-tech production hubs, rose to 48 as of Jan. 10 from 13 recorded as of Dec. 30, according to the Hsinchu Science Park Bureau.

The increase in the number of workers on unpaid leave came after a computer peripherals manufacturer announced it was asking 35 workers to take unpaid leave, the bureau said.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan, Jackson Chang and Frances Huang)