CLA opposes Young Fast’s China plan

2010/07/26

VIOLATIONS: Because of various ongoing labor disputes, the council said the firm should not be allowed to invest in China to protect the Taiwanese workers’ rights

By Shelley Huang STAFF REPORTER Monday, Jul 26, 2010, Page 3

The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) told the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Investment Commission that it opposes allowing a leading touch-panel sensor maker facing a series of labor disputes to make capital investments in China.

After more than five months, labor disputes have yet to be settled at Young Fast Optical Inc, which employs more than 700 people. The company has been accused of labor violations including the mass layoff of domestic workers to replace them with foreign labor, failure to pay for overtime, insufficient allocation of labor pension funds and illegally employing students under the age of 16 to work overtime via education programs.

The Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) bars students under the age of 16 who are participating in cooperative education programs from working more than eight hours per day. Employers in violation of this are criminally liable and can face up to six years in prison and be fined up to NT$20,000.

Repeated protests by unions and labor groups prompted the council to investigate the matter and found that certain allegations against the company were true. The council’s Bureau of Labor Insurance also recently fined the company for underinsuring its workers.

The council, which handed the case over to Taoyuan County prosecutors for further investigation, said that because several allegations are still being investigated and labor management disputes have not been settled, it opposed allowing the company to make investments abroad.

When the Investment Commission, which is evaluating whether to approve Young Fast’s proposal to make a capital investment in China, consulted the council on the matter, the latter voiced its opposition in an effort to protect employees’ rights at the company, it said.

In related news, the council said it plans to create 45,000 jobs in the public sector later this year in order to keep unemployment rates under control.

The latest unemployment numbers released by the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics showed a slight increase in the number of unemployed people last month. Although the increase was expected because of fresh graduates entering the workforce, the council said it was closely watching job market indicators to keep the jobless rate under control.

The council said that about 15,000 of the jobs would be temporary positions aimed at groups that were particularly hard hit by the economic downturn, such as middle-aged, elderly and handicapped workers. The council plans to create the temporary, public-sector jobs in September.

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