Apple Daily Taiwan to lay off 13 percent of staff

CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — Apple Daily Taiwan, one of the country’s major Chinese language newspapers, announced Monday plans to lay off 140 employees or 13 percent of its total workforce, in the wake of falling revenue over the past few months due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The daily newspaper, known for its sensationalist reporting, said in a press release that layoffs will be staggered, without providing a time table.

The paper said 75 of the layoffs will be in its sales and administrative departments while the remainder will come from the editorial teams for its print and online news section.

Calling the decision “heartbreaking,” the company pledged to lay off employees in accordance with Taiwan’s Labor Standards Act.

The layoff plan was announced due to falling advertising revenue since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading the company to operate at a loss, the statement said.

Cutting editorial team members also means the paper will shift its focus from traditional local news coverage to more in-depth investigative reporting, major social news, and feature stories, it added.

Despite running at a loss, the company said it will continue to push its online subscription-based service for paying customers, which it launched in April 2019.

In response to the announcement, the employee union expressed regret over the decision.

It also called on management to allow severance pay for employees willing to take voluntary redundancy.

Higher severance payments should also be given to union members who take voluntary redundancy, it added.

The union said it would help members who have disputes with the company’s proposed severance pay plan, while calling on more employees to join the union and fight for their collective rights, it said in a press release.

Apple Daily, originally a Hong Kong-based newspaper founded in 1995 by Hong Kong entrepreneur Jimmy Lai (黎智英), entered the Taiwan market in 2003, focusing heavily on gossip, breaking news and paparazzi reports.

The newspaper previously announced a round of lay-offs in March, less than a week after its sister publication, tabloid weekly Next Magazine, ceased publication in late February after 19 years.