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ASE to continue employee paychecks

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE, 日月光) announced yesterday that it plans to continue paying its employees even after one of its factories was ordered to be shut down due to pollution issues.

Kaohsiung City's Environmental Protection Bureau ordered ASE's K7 facility to be shut down days after unregistered pipes releasing wastewater into the Houchin River from said facility were discovered. With the announcement came an order that the company was not to fire any of its employees or deny them salary during the operation halt.

ASE's finance head Tung Hung-xi stated that the company had not received the Environment Protection Bureau's official document about its shutdown decision. “There are approximately 5,000 people employed at the K7 facility, and most of them are technicians and are valuable to the company. ASE will face operational difficulties and will do its best to shorten the span of time for the shutdown. We will also pay our employees and ensure that their rights are not exploited,” said Tung.

Affected but Still Under Control: ASE

ASE replied to the government's order, saying that the stoppage would cost the company US$18 million in profits each month, and would undoubtedly have an impact on the company, but the scope was still under control. Roughly 40 percent of employees at the K7 facility will be affected more than the others from the operation halt, said Tung.

Tung added that the company has already begun communicating actively with its customers, and will endeavor to maintain its partnership and trust established with other companies.

The K7 facility was mainly in charge of producing wafer bumping and flip chips, and profits around US$58 million each month, with US$18 million raked in from manufacturing wafers, the production line of which was stopped by the government announcement due to the pollution it had caused in Houchin River. K7 is responsible for 9 percent of the company's earnings.

Fear for Domino Effect: MOEA Deputy Minister

The facility's shutdown may pose have negative effects on the semiconductor engineering industry. Should the shutdown go longer than three months, a domino effect may be fueled by ASE and eventually dislodge Taiwan's advantage on semiconductors, said Woody Duh (杜紫軍), deputy minister at the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

The MOEA respects the decision and punishment handed down by the environmental department, but despite how the punishment is inevitable for ASE, it may cause a less-than-positive impact. “I feel sorry about the impact this may induce,” said Duh, adding that the MOEA will not interfere with ASE's possible attempt to file for administrative remedies like an injunction.

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