Japan small manufacturers’ union demands record base pay rise

By Tetsushi Kajimoto

TOKYO (Reuters) -A Japanese union representing small manufacturers announced on Tuesday a demand for a record monthly pay increase of 12,000 yen ($80), or 4% of base pay, for 2024, officials said.

When including seniority-based automatic pay hikes, the demand from the Japanese Association of Metal, Machinery and Manufacturing Workers (JAM) tops 16,500 yen, they said.

The demand follows similar demands for pay increases from other unions, offering hope for an end to the deflation that has dogged Japan for more than a decade, and for the Bank of Japan to bring policy normalisation closer.

This year’s annual wage talks between labour and management have resulted in wage increases of about 3.6% at big firms, the highest in three decades. Policymakers are putting pressure on firms to raise wages even more next year.

About 70% of Japanese workers are employed by small and medium enterprises (SME) so they are key to seeing extensive wage increases.

“What’s important is to realise wage growth that is faster than price hikes,” JAM chairman Katahiro Yasukochi told reporters.

For 2024, Japan’s largest trade union confederation Rengo has demanded pay increases of 5% or more, 3% of which consists of a base pay rise.

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; editing by Robert Birsel and Chizu Nomiyama)