Japan: Major Japanese firms offer smaller pay hikes

Managers at major Japanese companies have notified their labor unions they will offer smaller pay hikes than last year.

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The Japan Council of Metalworkers’ Unions have disclosed the offers it received from companies on Wednesday morning. The council includes about 2 million workers in the auto, electronics and other industries.

Among automakers, Toyota has agreed to increase monthly base pay by an average of 1,300 yen, or about 11 dollars. That’s down from last year’s 13 dollars.

Negotiators with Nissan agreed to a raise of just over 13 dollars per month, half the amount agreed last year. Honda agreed to a 14 dollar raise. This is 4 dollars higher than last year.

Executives at 5 major electronics makers, including Hitachi and Panasonic, say they will grant an increase of nearly 9 dollars per month on average. That’s 4 dollars lower than last year’s amount.

Labor unions were asking for a raise of more than 26 dollars. The labor unions of struggling Toshiba and Sharp pulled out from the unified wage talks and did not demand a base pay increase.

Managers at Toridoll, the operator of udon noodle chain Marugame Seimen, agreed to fully accept its union’s demands by adding more than 30 dollars to monthly wages.

Supermarket operator Maruetsu agreed to a raise of 28 dollars. This is about two-thirds the amount requested by union leaders.

It marked the 4th straight year that major companies will give base pay hikes. But pay increases offered by most firms were lower than those agreed on last year.

Analysts attribute this to declining corporate earnings due to a stronger yen. Another factor is uncertainty over the economy following the launch of the new US administration.

In addition to wage negotiations, both managers and labor unions are now looking at new working styles.

Analysts are watching to see if smaller firms will follow suit and raise wages.

Source and image: NHK
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