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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 December 10 - 16  > Fixed-term workers are key workforce at Toyota
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2008 December 10 - 16 [LABOR]

Fixed-term workers are key workforce at Toyota

December 14, 2008
Akahata Sunday Edition

Toyota Motor Corp. is expected to report 600 billion yen in profits for the current fiscal year that ends on March 31, 2009, despite the economic downturn. This same automaker, which is the world’s largest, became the spearhead behind the ongoing job cuts by major corporations at the cost of the jobs of many temporary and fixed-term workers.

Toyota for the last 20 years has made the largest profits in Japan by hiring more fixed-term workers instead of full-time regular workers.

In 1990, Toyota reported an ordinary income of 733.8 billion yen. The figure more than doubled to about 1.58 trillion yen in its report at the end of March 2008.

In contrast, the number of full-time employees at Toyota decreased to 69,000 in 2008 from 70,000 in 1990.

In 1990, the automaker employed 2,100 fixed-term workers. In 1994, however, it did not employ at all due to an economic recession triggered by the collapse of the economic bubble.

Since 2000, in accordance with a major increase in output, the fixed-term workforce reached a maximum of more than 10,000 in 2004, or 30 percent of all assembly-line workers. In 2007, Toyota overtook General Motors to become the world’s number one car maker. Fixed-term workers became the main workforce at Toyota.

These fixed-term workers are paid about 10,000 yen a day or about three million yen a year, excluding overtime pay, which is less than half the average yearly salary of a regular employee who makes about 8.3 million yen.

Toyota increases the number of fixed-term workers when production rises, and decreases it when its output falls. It has been using these workers as an adjustment valve and as a low-wage workforce.

When Toyota announced its half-year financial report on November 6, Vice President Kinoshita Mitsuo said, “About 9,000 workers were on our fixed-term payroll at a peak in January this year. Previously, the number was 3,000 at the most. We use non-regular workers to meet the sharp increase in production in recent years and to make up for regular employees because it became difficult to ask regular workers to engage in more overtime work due to the law. We will probably have around 3,000 fixed-term workers at the end of March 2009.”

Toyota has announced a plan to cut 3,000 non-regular jobs in addition to another 3,000 that have already been cut since the start of this year. The midterm dividends paid to its shareholders will reach 203.7 billion yen. If they use just five percent, or 9 billion yen, of this, the automaker can keep the 3,000 workers on its payrolls.

Ito Kinji of the Aichi Labor Institute and the author of “Toyota no Hinkaku” (The Dignity of Toyota Corp.), said, “The huge profit of over one trillion yen and 13.9 trillion yen in reserve funds have been made possible by the use of a large number of fixed-term employees as an adjustment valve to increase production without increasing regular jobs. Toyota should immediately stop dismissing fixed-term workers and fulfill its social responsibility to them.”
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