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Business

Yamato execs, labor joining forces on workplace reform

New recruiting efforts aimed at tackling worker shortage

TOKYO -- Yamato Transport will bring together top officials and union representatives starting next month to hash out specific labor reform measures, aiming to boost recruitment as a shortage of workers stretches current employees thin.

Japan's largest door-to-door shipper agreed during recent labor negotiations to curb the amount of home-delivery parcels it handles and make changes to a service letting clients choose their delivery times. Labor and management have also agreed to take steps to improve work-life balance and re-evaluate services that involve particularly complex work. A new labor reform committee, to be established April 1, will examine specific measures to achieve these goals.

President Yutaka Nagao will head the group, which will include officials from departments such as sales, shipping and information systems, as well as representatives from the company's labor union. The committee will meet periodically to discuss workplace issues at various divisions and talk through potential solutions. Subcommittees will be created at branch offices around Japan so that all voices may be heard.

Unpaid overtime work has become the norm at Yamato, according to sources such as the labor union. The shipper is surveying around 76,000 drivers to gain a clearer picture of the situation. The committee is seen hatching policies to reduce overtime and introducing a system to keep proper track of work hours.

Cutting back

The Yamato Holdings unit is also reorganizing certain operations to address a persistent labor shortage. Recruitment and human resources development, currently handled by a single department, will be handed off to two new, dedicated divisions and given more staff.

To hold on to existing workers, the company will consider creating a forum where staff can improve their skills. Yamato aims to recruit 1,050 fresh college graduates to begin work in 2018 -- 30% more than the number that started this year.

A new organization under the company's president will take charge of creating new operations and introducing cutting-edge technologies, which could include self-driving vehicles and drone-based delivery. The auditing department will also be brought directly under the president's control, bolstering the division's authority to crack down on such issues as unpaid overtime.

Yamato is set to log an 8% increase in home-delivery volume to a record 1.87 million parcels in the year ending March 31, due largely to growth in the online shopping industry. This surge, coupled with a shortage of drivers and delivery staff, has forced longer hours on workers. If left unaddressed, the situation could hurt recruitment, in turn deepening the company's labor crunch. Cutting back package pickups is also on the table to keep operations sustainable.

(Nikkei)

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