Rengo to demand pay hike of more than 1%

Kyodo, JIJI

Rengo plans to demand a basic pay raise of more than 1 percent in next year’s “shunto” spring labor talks, a source close to the group said Wednesday.

It will be the first time for Rengo — the Japanese Trade Union Confederation — to request a basic pay hike since 2009.

The umbrella organization of labor unions judged it necessary to raise workers’ income because corporate earnings have started to recover on the back of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policy mix, known as “Abenomics,” and prices are expected to rise, the source said.

Earlier this month at a regular assembly, Nobuaki Koga, president of Rengo, called on labor unions under its wing to demand such a pay increase.

Rengo refrained from seeking a hike in base salaries for four straight years through 2013 in light of an economic slump in Japan after the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers in 2008.

At a central executive committee meeting Thursday, the union group will adopt a basic policy that includes the base salary hike request and will formalize it at a central committee meeting in December. It plans to request a base salary hike of 1 to 2 percent while asking management to ensure regular annual wage hikes, according to the sources.

Based on Rengo’s basic policy, member unions will work out their own demands and submit them to their employers for next spring’s wage negotiations.

Among them, the Japanese Electrical Electronic and Information Union, comprising labor unions of electronics manufacturers, is planning to begin considering adopting a unified request for a pay scale increase for the first time in five years.

Partly due to the government’s wage hike request, an increasing number of employers are taking positive stances toward a pay scale hike, with Hitachi Ltd. Chairman Takashi Kawamura saying that is one option for fiscal 2014.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has asked Japan’s largest business lobby, Keidanren, and other business entities to raise wages.

In the shunto talks earlier this year, Rengo asked for a 1 percent hike in overall pay, but that included bonuses and allowances.

Nidec vows pay raise

OSAKA Jiji

Major electronics parts maker Nidec Corp. will raise salaries through a pay scale increase next spring, President Shigenobu Nagamori said, citing the need, in step with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policy, to beat entrenched deflation.

“I want to reward employees in line with a corporate tax cut,” Nagamori said Tuesday at a news conference in Osaka to announce earnings results for April-September.

“I am resolved to raise the pay scale in an effort to help Japan overcome deflation,” he said.

“I would rather increase salaries than increase bonuses,” he said, adding that he supports Abe’s economic policies.

An increasing number of Japanese business leaders have reacted positively to the Abe government’s call for higher pay at a time when employers are preparing for regular wage talks with labor unions next spring.

A pay scale increase is “an option,” Takashi Kawamura, chairman of major electronics and machinery maker Hitachi Ltd., told reporters after a meeting of business leaders, government officials and labor group representatives in Tokyo Thursday.

After the meeting, Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda also hinted at a pay scale increase, telling reporters that an earnings improvement should be followed by rewards to employees.

But some union officials are concerned that they are being sidelined by the government and businesses over the issue of higher pay.