Japan Post scales back graduate hiring in blow to labor union


Japan Post Holdings Co. is hiring fewer graduates than it planned next fiscal year, in contrast with labor union calls for the newly listed financial and mail delivery giant to boost staffing.

A total of 5,635 recent grads will join the postal group on April 1, the Tokyo-based company said in an emailed statement. That’s 14 percent fewer than the 6,540 it initially planned to hire a year ago. It’s a 6.5 percent decline from the 6,027 who joined last April.

Japan Post and its banking and insurance units, which sold $12 billion of shares in a three-pronged initial public offering last November, are under pressure to boost profit for investors while also maintaining universal services in accordance with the rules of the privatization. The group is one of the nation’s biggest employers, with more than 200,000 workers in branches around the country.

The Postal Industry Workers Union asked Japan Post to improve working conditions through “a large increase of permanent staff,” according to an in-house newsletter dated Feb. 13 and obtained by Bloomberg. It also asked the group to raise full-time employees’ base salaries by ¥20,000 ($176) a month.

Japan Post has not signaled whether it will accept the union’s demands, saying it will have to take into account financial-market instability before it decides how to respond, according to another union newsletter, dated Feb. 17.

“We are in talks with the labor union and will engage in negotiations to make a decision considering the economic circumstances,” said Yasuhide Masuoka, a Tokyo-based spokesman for Japan Post, declining to comment further.

The drop in graduate recruits was due to the result of interviews with candidates rather than any concerns about earnings, the company said in the emailed statement. Japan Post will continue to promote contract workers to permanent positions and hire experienced people to provide required services, it said.

Net income fell 5.3 percent from a year earlier to ¥383.1 billion in the nine months ended Dec. 31, according to company statements. It forecasts full-year group profit will fall 23 percent to ¥370 billion.

Most of the reduced hiring is at the mail delivery arm, which is wholly owned by the holding company. A total of 2,170 graduates will join this unit in April as regular workers in post offices nationwide, down 34 percent from initial plans to hire 3,300, Japan Post said.