American Honda severance packages may signal a more serious fault line
Honda builds great products, from cars to generators to air planes. The company even produces the only real nat-gas car in America. So, why the need to cut employees?
Of course the management changes at Honda Motor Company are subject to approval at the General Meeting of Shareholders of the company scheduled to be held in late June 2012, and decision at the meeting of the Board of Directors to be held immediately thereafter.
It is the news out of Los Angeles, though, that caught this writer’s attention, because this one affects American workers. Voluntary severances targeted toward workers 59 and older is obviously an age-targeted approach that, in this writer’s opinion, borders on age discrimination. Why not offer other employees that same benefit if age discrimination is not true?
Fact is, there seems to be a mode of thinking in the corporate world, especially in America, that anyone over the age of 59 isn’t worthy of continued employment. All this comes at a time when multiple thousands have already lost their jobs, so finding another one at that age is no cake walk. Furthermore, the government is considering raising the age for social security benefits.
I was always given to understand that the Japanese respected the stage that we call being an elder. In fact, when Saturn started, we studied the Japanese model which stated exactly that. Now that may apply in Japan, but obviously not in America.
Now, there is nothing wrong or illegal for a company to make an offer such as this. However, when the purpose seems to be focused solely on the cost of elder wages, the issue of morality is hard to dismiss.
Frankly, had it not been for an article by Automotive News which I highly admire, I may not have heard of this offer by Honda. The Honda website surely didn’t relate any such news.
See, I know what it’s like to get one of those offers. Fact is, nobody cares that between the ages of 59 and 62, there are no jobs readily available, and there certainly are no social security benefits either. So, only a financially stable person can even think about such an offer; and in this economy, it is the few who are able to accept it. In that respect, I was fortunate; but not everyone is. Even then, there was a financial price.
Rumor has it that American Honda is counting on its Honda and Acura divisions to increase their U.S. sales by 25 percent this calendar year. So, if that is true, then why cut back on sales folk and others? And why cut only the older employees when they are supposed to be a treasured commodity, at least according to Japanese cultural standards?
Honda may not be the only one making such offers, though. For example, Automotive News also reported that Mazda North American Operations offered voluntary buyouts to its 701 U.S. non-manufacturing workers as it tries to cut costs. Fact is, Mazda’s Japanese parent hasn’t made a profit in four years.
Perhaps this is all merely a symptom, where American business practices and standards are having too much of an effect, and are now trumping the Japanese model that once was the envy of the world.