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Taipei firms' mass layoffs reach highest in 4 years

Fifty Taipei companies had announced mass layoffs by mid-August this year, the highest in four years, reported the city's Labor Department yesterday.

According to the agency, “mass layoff” is defined by law as the letting-go of 20 workers in a single day or a third of a workforce within 60 days by a company with a size of 30 to 200 workers.

The layoffs affected 1,531 workers, who can go to the city government for information on jobs and job-training programs, the bureau said.

At the same time, for people who were laid off on an involuntary basis, they can get the city's help to collect unemployment benefits, apply for pay subsidies and get information on continuing education programs.

The city also plans to hold large-scale job fairs to provide complete and comprehensive services to those out of a job, it said.

According to the city, back in June it had predicted a possible deterioration of the economy in the second half. As a response measure it earmarked a budget of NT$22.68 million to open skill-strengthening courses in the hope of providing real and substantive help for those who are unemployed, it said.

“With regard to Taipei City's unemployment situation and ways to respond to it, we've already reported everything to Mayor Hau Lung-bin two weeks ago,” said Chang Chi-yu, deputy chief of the Labor Department, yesterday.

According to him, the figures might have really disturbed Hau, who then urged sending former President Chen Shui-bian on medical parole as a way for the pan-blue and pan-green camps to reconcile and work on the economy.

Chang further pointed out the possibility t0the economy won't turn around in the near future. As a result the city will next year put on top of its original budget two extra funds totaling NT$20 million to assist unemployed workers.

One fund, worth NT$10 million, will go toward job training, and the other as an incentive to encourage employers to hire workers that became unemployed starting July 1 this year.

Companies who hire these workers will get a maximum pay subsidy of NT$10,000 for each worker hired, with the subsidization period lasting no longer than six months.

Taiwan's unemployment rate in July was 4.31 percent, an increase of 0.01 percent from June, the government reported last week.

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