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Yamato, labor agree on workplace reforms to ease strain

Japanese ground shipper handling record packages amid worker shortage

A Yamato Transport employee delivers luggage in Tokyo.

TOKYO -- Japanese logistics giant Yamato Transport and its labor representatives agreed Thursday to reforms geared toward easing the burden on overworked personnel, including package volume limits and fewer client-specified delivery times.

With the growth in online shopping, the company will handle a record of over 1.8 billion packages this fiscal year, up 30% from five years ago. Yet the Yamato Holdings unit is dealing with a severe worker shortage that has contributed to longer hours on the clock.

The union for the first time requested drastic workplace reforms during labor talks, apart from routine pay raises. Management also had determined that the company otherwise could not maintain the type of customer service upon which Yamato built its name.

Yamato Transport will rein in parcel volume largely by raising base shipping rates for the first time in 27 years. The biggest domestic home-delivery service is negotiating higher rates with Amazon Japan and other large-volume clients. The company may stop accepting parcels from customers that fail to compromise.

The company currently offers six delivery time frames daily. The agreement abolishes the noon-2 p.m. slot, granting workers a lunch break. The final 8-9 p.m. period will stretch to 7-9 p.m. to alleviate bottlenecks.

The last deadline for placing redelivery requests will be moved up from 8 p.m. to 7 p.m. In addition, workers will secure a minimum of 10 hours off after punching out starting in October.

Labor and management shook hands on an aggregate monthly raise of 6,338 yen ($55.98), topping last year's increase of 5,024 yen. Yamato lifted the base pay portion of that by 814 yen, the fourth straight year it made such a concession.

Yamato will price in the size of parcels and quality of service rendered when calculating pay incentives tracking the volume of packages delivered. The summer bonus also will climb 2,000 yen to 564,000 yen.

(Nikkei)

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