• Kyodo News

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Hitachi Ltd. has proposed a plan to its labor union to turn one workday a month into an unpaid day off as an additional personnel cost-cutting step, company officials said Wednesday.

The plan would affect all of its roughly 40,000 domestic employees, they said, adding the company wants to keep the measure in place from April to next March.

The proposal is in line with a labor-practice trend in the automobile and home electronics industries, where a growing number of employers are introducing work-sharing arrangements to preserve job security in exchange for cutting wages.

As for Hitachi’s automobile component and home electronics divisions — the segments particularly battered by the global economic slowdown — the company envisions turning three workdays every two months into unpaid days off, they said.

Monthly wages in the divisions are expected to be reduced 3 percent to 5 percent from current levels.

But as part of its negotiations in this spring’s annual wage talks, the union has been demanding that the company grant a monthly wage hike of an average ¥4,500 per employee.

It isn’t clear if the union will sign on to Hitachi’s proposal.

Hitachi is expected to incur a consolidated net loss of ¥700 billion in the business year to March 31 against the backdrop of flagging earnings stemming from the global economic woes.

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