Taiwan’s solar energy firm to lay off 203 workers

Taipei, Green Energy Technology Inc., a Taiwanese multicrystalline solar wafer maker, is laying off 203 workers based in the Southern Taiwan Science Park.

The announcement was the second business downsizing in less than 15 days in the local solar energy industry, which is faced with falling global demand that has led to massive losses among Taiwanese solar energy firms.

Local media said the 203 workers account for about 20 percent of Green Energy's total workforce.

"In order to coordinate with customers' strategic planning, it is essential to make necessary adjustments to the organization and manpower allocation," Green Energy said in a statement.

Green Energy said the layoff aims to "adjust effectively production capacity and enhance the company's competitiveness and operational performance."

The company said it has submitted a report to the administrative bureau of the science park about the layoffs and vowed to follow local labor rules in carrying out the downsizing plan.

The company added that it will enter negotiations with the company's labor union to seek a consensus on the downsizing plan and will try to help affected employees secure other jobs.

After the layoffs, Green Energy said it will continue to make efforts to upgrade its technology and introduce automation to eventually raise its global competitive edge in the rapidly changing solar energy market.

On Tuesday, solar cell maker Motech Industries Inc. announced that it will further scale down its workforce by about 2 percent as it copes with challenges facing the solar industry after announcing last week that it would terminate the employment contracts of 300 migrant workers.

Market analysts said the layoff announcements by Motech and Green Energy might not be an end to the latest wave of struggling in the local solar energy industry, as many of the firms in the sector still incurred losses and there are now signs that they will make an immediate turnaround.

In the first half of this year, Green Energy suffered a net loss of NT$1.35 billion (US$44.26 million), up from NT$695 million in loss seen a year earlier, with NT$3.09 in loss per share, compared with NT$1.63 loss per share over the same period of last year.

For its part, Motech posted NT$5.84 in loss per share in the first six months, extending from NT$3.50 loss per share a year earlier.

Analysts said a move by the Chinese government to end subsidies on solar energy purchases earlier this year, along with a global supply glut, has hampered Taiwanese manufacturers.

Only a small number of companies, such as solar cell material maker Gigasolar Materials Corp. and solar cell module supplier Anji Technology Co., remained profitable in the first half of this year.

Analysts said that although the global solar energy industry is expected to benefit from peak-season effects in the fourth quarter to some extent, the specter of oversupply will come back to haunt the sector in the first quarter of next year, so Taiwanese solar energy firms had better prepare themselves for more impact ahead.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel