Unionized Toyota workers in Japan have won their largest pay hike in 21 years. The Toyota Motor Workers’ Union won increases of about $26 in base pay per month, a 2.9 per cent raise on average, the first increase in base wages for the union in six years.

Yasunobu Aihara, the president of the Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers’ Unions, of which the Toyota workers’ union belongs, sees the pay raise as significant.

“We hope that this will spread widely across the automotive industry, including small and mid-sized companies and irregular workers,” he was reported in news wire services.

In addition, Toyota’s union won an increase in the average bonus to the equivalent of 6.8 months of salary, the most in six years. The salary hike and bigger bonus brings the total rise in compensation to about 7.6 per cent from one year ago.

Jerry Dias, Unifor president, believes it is an indication of how a union can help Toyota workers in Ontario, too. “Toyota has weathered the recession, they are making record profits and Japanese workers through their union were able to win this,” said Dias. “It likely never would have happened without a union. Without a collective agreement (in Ontario) Toyota won’t have to do anything for years.”

Ontario Toyota workers last had a pay hike in about 2009, according to team members here, and have seen benefits and pensions cut. Among those cuts in 2012 Toyota reduced indexing in its defined benefit pension plan and announced new hires will only receive the defined contribution plan.

Toyota has forecast a record $18.49 billion profit for the year ending March 31. It also has nearly $40 billion in cash.