Top unions submit request for pay hikes

Kyodo

Influential labor unions on Wednesday submitted requests for annual pay hikes amid a major gulf with employers.

The unions at major carmakers, including Toyota Motor Corp., and electronics firms called for annual, seniority-based automatic raises and bonus hikes.

Companies plan to respond to the union wage demands March 13, ahead of the April 1 start of the next fiscal year.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has asked business leaders to raise wages in a rare move reflecting the government’s resolve to battle chronic deflation on the back of rising stock prices and the yen’s depreciation, which helps improve exporters’ earnings.

But Keidanren, the largest business lobby, has remained cautious about meeting the workers’ call for seniority-based wage increases.

The federation said it will not be until summer or later that effects from the yen’s depreciation will be reflected in corporate performance.

A Toyota union sought annual bonuses averaging ¥2.05 million, up ¥270,000 from the amount received last year, in line with the automaker’s recovering earnings.

The 63,000-strong Toyota Motor Workers’ Union called for bonuses equivalent to five months of wages plus ¥300,000 but dropped demands for a pay-scale hike for the fourth consecutive year.

A union of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. requested a raise of ¥100,000 in bonuses from the amount paid last year, which was equivalent to five months of wages, while a union of Nissan Motor Co. left its bonus demand unchanged from the previous year.

Panasonic Corp. called for maintaining annual seniority-based automatic pay hikes.

The Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) seeks a 1 percent hike in overall pay in this year’s “shunto” spring pay talks, saying raises will help lift the nation out of chronic deflation.