National

Bureaucrats face a cold shoulder

The National Personnel Authority has decided to reduce allowances for national government employees working in cold districts, personnel authority sources said Sunday.

The revision would be the first since the system to provide allowances for heating and related expenses was introduced in 1949.

The allowance is currently paid to government employees working in 30 prefectures from Hokkaido to Yamaguchi, but the personnel authority conducted a survey of similar allowances paid by private-sector firms to their employees and found that with the exception of Hokkaido, they for the most part were no more than about 20 percent that for the public servants.

The personnel authority plans to narrow down the areas eligible for the allowance by introducing a new condition — that areas located in Honshu will have to have the same average temperature and maximum snow cover depth as Hokkaido. This would whittle down the number of areas by some 70 percent, the sources said. At the same time, it will also reduce the allowance payment, they said.

It expects the total amount of allowance, which stood at about 11 billion yen in fiscal 2003, to be halved, they added.

The personnel authority is currently negotiating with the civil servants’ labor union with a view to introduce the revised system in 2005, they said.

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