Unpaid leave poses little threat to science parks: National Science Council official


TAIPEI–Unpaid leave will not affect three major science parks in Taiwan to a worrisome degree, despite a growing fear that the recent wave of unpaid leave among private enterprises will expand after the Chinese New Year holiday in late January, a National Science Council deputy minister said. The problem of unpaid leave — a strategy that companies use to cut down manpower costs amid times of economic slowdown or recession — was easing at three science parks in the north, center and south of the country, Jou Jing-yang said.

He cited statistics to show that the number of workers at the science parks on unpaid leave as of the end of last year has declined to some 860 persons from 1,445 persons recorded last October, amid a global slowdown caused by the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone.

Jou’s statistics, however, seemed contrary to the latest national figures released by the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) on Jan. 2, which showed the number of companies exercising the measure of unpaid leave as of the end of last year had increased by nine to 109, while the number of workers on unpaid leave had also surged by 2,916 people to 12,487.

Addressing the issue of unpaid leave at the science parks in Hsinchu, Taichung and Tainan, Jou said the facilities employed a total of over 200,000 workers and only 800 of them were on unpaid leave, which he said was “not many.”

There is no need to worry about the recent unpaid leave issue, which is different from the one in 2008 when nearly two thirds of workers at the science parks were forced to take unpaid leave, Jou stated.

He explained that high-tech companies at the science parks mostly have long-term manpower cultivation plans. Unlike traditional manufacturers, high-tech companies “will not do such a thing as lay you off when they have no orders and hire you back when orders come,” he said.

Several companies at the science parks have been hit by the recent global slowdown, but it is because they lack market competitiveness, Jou said.

It is natural that enterprises rise and fall because of the level of their competitiveness, he said.