The Japan Business Federation (=Keidanren) takes clear attitudes to 'ignore Spring Labor Offensive', cancelling its policy of 'Partnership between Labor and Business in Spring Labor Offensive'. Concretely speaking, the federation will commit in tough deals with the labor by postponing and freezing the established custom of wage hike. Labor's victory will be very hard without a right action program to meet demands of workers to improve living conditions.
STAGE COUNTER-OFFENSIVE AND FIGHT FOR BETTER LIVING CONDITIONS OF WORKERS!
Last year labor unions suspended struggles just before the final negotiation stage with the employer side due to the earthquakes which had devastated the northeastern region of Japan on March 11. Talks on wages were closed and a hike was postponed or rejected. The labor side made concessions too, saying 'judging from the tragic situations of disaster-hit areas and people, it is not a time to demand a wage hike', and took the same stance as Keidanren.
Consequently, employers retained a fund as an income that should have been distributed among workers: irregular workers counted over 21 million and, due to unemployment, recipient families of Life Protection Benefits surged to 1.5 million and individuals, 2.07 million. Workers in general had a decreased amount of income. The labor must win, therefore, in the Spring Labor Offensive 2012 by learning from experiences last year and overcoming attacks from the capital side that excuses of the natural disaster and the high Yen evaluation in the exchange market.
Business Side Wants to Dissolve Labor Offensive
The policies of the National Centers are:
(1) Rengo (=Japan Trade Unions Confederation): to regenerate thick strata of middle class by actively investing in the fields to develop human resources and to demand a wage hike by 1%
(2) Zenrokyo (=National Trade Union Council): to demand a wage hike so that workers could lead a decent, dignified life
(3) Zenroren (=National Confederation of Trade Unions): to raise living conditions by guaranteeing wage hikes, employment and social safety
Many labor unions are unable to commit in struggles to raise basic wages with an exception of trade unions of private railway companies.
The employers' organization had maintained passive attitudes until the year 2000 against the labor: it had deplored spring, criticizing about the world's highest wage level of Japanese workers. After a decade, however, the federation gets bold enough to disunite the season's labor offensive.
The Keidanren's Report from Management-Labor Policy Panel says that on the ground of the natural disaster and the high Yen appreciation, 'many of companies cannot afford to meet demands of wage hike' and refers to 'rejection of demands and freezing of annual increases'. The stance is opposite to that of Year 2011 when the federation accepted the annually established practice of hike. The management conflicts sharply with the labor, taking advantage of the hard economic environment caused by the earthquakes and financial chaos in Europe.
Under the circumstances the capital wants to destroy Offensive, taking a no-dialogue and no-wage-hike policy. The labor cannot even sit at the negotiation table. Workers are exposed to reluctance and arrogance of employers and low profile of leaders of trade unions. If workers remain simply relying on their leaders' passive behaviors in the negotiation, they will see the similar results as those of last year.
A crucial point is whether the labor could unite demands and take concerted actions. Even unified negotiation is hard to ensure wages, much less separate one. A result is foreseen before struggles.
Each Union Member Should Join One Action
If a leadership cannot win a good result, members lose aspirations to be affiliated with unions. The management will be happy with their success in closing Offensive, if individual members are unaware when campaigns start and end or they have doubts in the outcome of negotiation.
The labor faces a critical stage of the campaign. Do labor unions behave right? So many tasks remain unsolved. Workers must fight so that their unions can be militant. They must get united through studying, rallying and exchanging ideas.
Locally-based trade unions affiliated with the Zenrokyo propose to take a concerted action. They are involved in the caravan campaign to visit individual employers for negotiation. Union members are encouraged to join concrete actions.
Spring Labor Offensive can be successful when union members share demands and take unified actions.
February 7, 2012