NTT to eliminate 60,000 jobs

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp., Japan's largest telecommunications group, is about to embark on a new round of restructuring which will slash the number of employees by 60,000, the largest ever, and carry out sizable wage cuts for middle-aged workers.

In April, the management proposed details of the "structural reform" to the two NTT unions, the All NTT Workers Unions of Japan (NWJ) affiliated with the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) and the Telecommunication Industry Workers' Union (Tsushin-roso) affiliated with the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren).

The NTT group's three-year restructuring plan includes a 30,000 job cut in line with the three-ruling coalition parties' proposal published last November for the full privatization of NTT and streamlining of the "costly" operations of its regional carriers, NTT East and NTT West.

In less than one month, however, the number of jobs to be eliminated has been doubled to 60,000 due to pressure from the new cabinet of Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro which said, "It is not enough."

The revised restructuring plan consists of two pillars: the transfer of 60,000 out of 113,000 NTT East and NTT West employees to NTT affiliate companies in the next three years. Those who do not accept distant transfers and those 51 or older will be laid off and rehired at regional subsidiaries to be created but their salaries will be 20 to 30 percent lower than what they earn now.

The NTT group consists of about a dozen major companies under a holding company, including NTT East, NTT West, NTT Communications (long distance and international services), NTT DoCoMo (mobile phone services), and NTT Data Corp.

For FY 1999 ending in March 2000, the group made a profit of 825 billion yen (about 6.9 billion dollars). And its accumulated internal reserves reached 8.3 trillion yen (nearly 69.2 billion dollars), the largest in the nation, and is approximately the same size as the Philippines' GDP. Still the group expects that the new round of restructuring will bring about another one trillion yen (about 83 billion dollars) in ordinary profits for FY 2002.

Commenting on the plan, Tsushin-roso President Iwasaki Shun criticized the management for its selfish profit-first policy for which workers are forced to pay.

"If we don't put up a fight, we'll allow every major company to become a holding company and pave the way for easy wage cuts and workforce reductions. This is how Japanese workers will be constantly threatened with dismissals," Iwasaki said. (end)