Biz chiefs, unions start payroll talks

JIJI

Base pay is the focus of this year’s “shunto” spring wage negotiations, as managers and labor leaders met Wednesday.

The Japanese Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo, is demanding a 1 percent or more hike in base pay to help the nation beat deflation.

Meanwhile, Keidanren, the nation’s biggest business lobby, insists that companies with rosy earnings should decide for themselves how to reward their employees, to avoid a permanent cost increase.

“We want to create a virtuous economic cycle in which an earnings recovery leads to an increase in investment, job creation and wage hikes,” Keidanren Chairman Hiromasa Yonekura said at the meeting.

He expressed interest in “constructive dialogue” with labor on challenges facing management in the medium to long term.

“We want to find an answer through sincere talks on monthly wages between the two sides,” Rengo General Secretary Rikio Kozu said in stressing the need for pay hikes.

Kozu attended the meeting on behalf of Rengo President Nobuaki Koga, who has the flu.

The meeting came amid hopes for a robust economic recovery on the back of “Abenomics,” as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s stimulative economic policy is known.

After the meeting, Yonekura told reporters that Keidanren member companies will do their best to raise wages in accordance with their respective business conditions.

On Friday, steel and other key industry unions will submit their wage demands to management. A number of firms are slated to give their responses on March 12.

In a related move, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference Wednesday that he hopes to see many companies hike wages, including increasing base pay, which is more desirable than increases in bonuses, he said.