According to a report on Nikkei, Tamron has solicited 200 voluntary retirements from its two factories in the Aomori prefecture in Japan, equal to about 40% of its domestic factory workforce.
Tamron will accept the voluntary retirements from November 10 – 20 and those who accept will be expected to retire by the end of December. Those who are eligible are full-time, part-time, and “associate” employees over the age of 45 and involved directly in manufacturing (assembling and polishing of lenses, for example). According to the report, Tamron will provide “special allowances” to those who choose to retire and will also “support reemployment” for those who do not wish to leave the workforce entirely and instead want to seek employment outside of Tamron.
“We will improve our competitiveness by optimizing the personnel composition,” Tamron has said, as they look to improve the company’s bottom line by increasing efficiency through factory automation.
At this point in 2020, Tamron is expecting its income for the year to be down 58% from 2019 to 2.2 billion yen in net income (~$20,892,291). The sharp decrease in sales is mainly blamed on the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
Voluntary retirements are usually a sign that a company is close to being forced into layoffs, but rather than surprise workers with the news, it wants to do what is best for them by both giving this early warning and also providing a chance to help avoid it for its youngest workers. The Japanese government has a National Pension System that provides benefits to those who do retire but is reserved for those over the age of 65. The hope is likely that there are those working who are close to retirement anyway and would be open to ending their career early. The “special allowances” that are promised to those who accept voluntary retirement is likely a generous severance package along with access to company resources to help find new employment, should they desire it.
If Tamron does not receive the 200 voluntary retirements it is looking for, it will very likely then be forced into traditional layoffs where the workforce does not get any say in who keeps their jobs.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the layoffs would affect 20% of Tamron’s Japanese workforce. It actually affects 40% of Tamron’s Japanese factory workforce. We apologize for the error.
Image credits: Photo by Phil Desforges