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Toyota said to take hard line against Japan union's wage request

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Toyota Motor Corp told its union it would be difficult to increase pay by even 1,000 yen (US$9) per month, according to people familiar with the negotiations and a labor group newsletter reviewed by Bloomberg News.

[TOKYO] Toyota Motor Corp told its union it would be difficult to increase pay by even 1,000 yen (US$9) per month, according to people familiar with the negotiations and a labor group newsletter reviewed by Bloomberg News.

The nation's biggest automaker told the Toyota Motor Workers' Union last week that Japan's lack of inflation, harsh business conditions and the already-high wages Toyota pays relative to peers make it challenging to boost monthly base pay by even 1,000 yen, said the people, who declined to comment on private negotiations. The company will offer 1,500-yen raises, local media outlets including Kyodo reported Tuesday without attribution.

Toyota's response to its union, which had requested 3,000 yen-per-month raises for the next fiscal year, underscores the challenge Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces in convincing Japan companies to boost pay and support economic growth. Exporters that had benefited from yen-weakening efforts known as Abenomics now have to deal with the currency strengthening early this year.

The automaker made comments about the difficulty of boosting pay during negotiations with the union on March 9 in Toyota City, Japan, according to the newsletter. Toyota declined to comment ahead of a briefing with reporters on Wednesday announcing the results of wage talks. The union didn't immediately respond to a voicemail seeking comment.

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Toyota is forecasting profit will reach 2.27 trillion yen for the year ending this month, its third-straight annual record. The company reported 5.21 trillion yen in cash, near- cash items and short-term investments on its balance sheet as of Dec. 31.

Japan's workers received a 0.1 per cent raise in 2015, while incomes dropped by 0.9 per cent after adjusting for inflation. Real earnings have declined for the past four years, dragging on consumption in the world's third-largest economy.

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