Staff idle

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The Independent Online
A STUDY by a private Tokyo think-tank says Japanese companies hit by falling orders are paying more than a million employees to do basically nothing.

The number of workers in Japanese industry estimated to be surplus to requirements increased by 160,000 in the third quarter of 1992 over the previous three-month period, to 1.06 million, the Nikko Research Centre said. The report was based on a survey of company production facilities and productivity per worker as well as optimum staffing levels.

Government officials say the Japanese tradition of holding on to staff in bad times is preferable to laying them off and creating large-scale unemployment. Employment statistics for October showed the number of Japanese already without jobs at 1.46 million, or 2.2 per cent of the workforce.