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Business chief hints at pay cuts to secure jobs.

TOKYO, Jan. 17 Kyodo

Hiroshi Okuda, chairman of the Japan Federation of Employers Associations (Nikkeiren), indicated Thursday companies may ask labor unions to accept pay cuts to prevent job losses in this year's wage negotiations.

''Personnel expenses are rising, while the surplus of labor is getting worse,'' Okuda said in a meeting in Tokyo between Nikkeiren and the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), Japan's largest labor organization.

''I want both management and labor to look at the situation seriously when conducting negotiations,'' Okuda said.

The meeting was the first in a series of labor-management wage talks for this year.

According to Rengo officials, the meeting discussed a range of labor issues, including regular wage hikes and adopting work-sharing programs.

Kiyoshi Sasamori, head of Rengo, told the meeting he wants management to understand the significance of the group's decision earlier this month to give up demanding a uniform pay-scale hike for the first time and instead put priority on job security in this year's wage talks.

''The fact that we went that far for the first time is significant. We want management to understand it,'' Sasamori said.

The Rengo officials said they believe work-sharing programs would be an efficient way to improve labor market conditions. Nikkeiren officials welcomed the labor side's readiness for such programs.

The Rengo officials also said they want member unions to decide on wage hike requests individually and not adopt the traditional habit of following the crowd.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Jan 21, 2002
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