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Next Multi-media to be fined over massive layoffs: official

TAIPEI -- The Taipei City Government will impose a fine on a subsidiary of the Next Media Group for carrying out mass layoffs in contravention of the country's labor laws, Chen Yeh-shin, head of the city's Department of Labor, said yesterday.

Next Multi-media Entertainment Services Ltd. failed to give adequate notice to the city's labor department that it planned to let go 234 of its 256 workers, Chen said

Under the law, the company is required to give at least 60 days' notice of a layoff of that size, he said at a press conference.

Next Multi-media therefore will be fined NT$100,000 (US$3,418) to NT$500,000 for violation of the Act for Worker Protection of Mass Redundancy, he said.

The act stipulates that a business entity with 200-500 workers must give at least 60 days notice if it plans to lay off more than one fourth of its employees over a three-month period or let go more than 50 workers in one day.

In the case of Next Multi-media, it informed the labor department Oct. 1 that it was laying off 204 workers, starting that same day, and two weeks later it revised the number to 234, Chen said.

To date, the company has terminated 95 workers and expects to complete its redundancy action by the end of the month.

Its parent company, the Hong Kong-based media giant Next Media, gave notice to the Taipei City Labor Department earlier this month that it planned to lay off a total of 551 employees at three of its subsidiaries — Next TV Broadcasting Ltd., Next Multi-media Entertainment Services Ltd., and Next E-Shopping Ltd.

Next TV was sold recently to a local cable and satellite TV company after it failed to break into the mainstream TV market in Taiwan.

The notice indicated that 300 out of 990 workers at Next TV would become redundant but the company later informed the Labor Department that it had revised the number to 178 and that the layoffs would be carried out between October and December, Chen said.

Meanwhile Next E-Shopping plans to let go 47 of its 86 employees but is still preparing its notice for submission to the city's Labor Department, he said.

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