Taiwan firms pledge no job cuts

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 07 2009 01:18 PM | Updated as of Feb 07 2009 10:18 PM

TAIPEI - More than 800 Taiwanese companies have pledged not to cut any jobs for a year to help the government tackle the rising problem of unemployment amid the global financial slowdown, officials said Saturday.

In return, the state and private firms in various sectors including steel, shipping and retail, will be entitled to government subsidies and loans, officials said.

Taiwan has been hit hard by the global downturn, with the December jobless rate hitting 5.03 percent, the highest level since the 5.05 percent recorded in September 2003.

Market analysts have predicted the local job market will continue to deteriorate as the island is faced with a record decline in exports, particularly for key electronic products.

The number of jobless claiming benefit also hit a record 60,000 in the final quarter of 2008 -- the highest level since the government started offering the subsidies in 2002.

The cabinet last month unveiled a 715 billion Taiwan dollars ($21.20 billion) stimulus package aimed at creating 150,000 new jobs in its latest bid to reduce the unemployment rate to less than 4.5 percent this year.