Industry officials say there will be a contrast in the imminent results of labor-management talks on wages and bonuses for 2005 between high-performance firms like Toyota Motor Corp. and other companies affected by high-profile scandals.
The annual “shunto” spring wage negotiations have reached their most important stage, with management at most major firms set to respond to their unions’ demands Wednesday.
To what extent these firms will agree to their unions’ bonus demands is now under scrutiny; many unions have given up calling for rises in basic wage scales, according to industry officials.
Honda Motor Co. expressed readiness Monday to grant its union’s demand in full. A top manager earlier described the required bonus sum as “being at a high level.”
Toyota management is expected to agree to pay its highest-ever bonus in light of the union’s demand for a bonus equal to five months’ wages plus a uniform 620,000 yen per employee, the officials said.
Toyota President Fujio Cho earlier said, “I can understand how hard our unionized workers have worked.” But he also expressed caution, citing the yen’s strength against the dollar and higher costs of steel components.
Management at Mazda Motor Corp. has already agreed to its union’s demand for a bonus worth 5.5 months’ wages.
Top managers at Nissan Motor Co. have indicated readiness to comply with the union’s demand for a bonus of 6.2 months’ wages, which would be the highest-ever sum at the automaker, the industry officials said.
But Nissan President Carlos Ghosn will have the final say in determining whether to grant the demand in full in view of the stronger yen, they said.
In contrast, management of Mitsubishi Motors Corp., whose performance was damaged by a series of defect coverups and recalls, appears to be spending most of the negotiations trying to make its union accept a new restructuring program, they said.
In the consumer electronics industry, unions at both Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. pushed up their bonus demand levels for the first time in four years amid an improvement in business, with both seeking a bonus equal to 5.2 months’ wages.
Last year, their actual bonuses were roughly 4.5 months’ wages.
The union at Sharp Corp. reduced its demand over the previous year to 5.4 months’ wages. But management has shown reluctance, saying the economy at this juncture could go in either direction.
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