Situations surrounding the annual Spring Labor Offensive 2013 are extremely harsh. If the Abe government elaborates its labor policy package, people's working and living conditions will be destroyed. However, the management side faces a crisis. Let's struggle earnestly to develop sound labor movements, denouncing neo-liberal labor policies.
LET'S STAGE STRUGGLES IN WORKPLACES AND COMMUNITIES
Aggravating Working Environment
The rate of irregular workers counts 35.2%, while regular workers suffer from lower wages and result-oriented appreciation. In the medium-and-smaller companies workers are controlled separately and individually without letting know about the whole wage system. This indicates that neo-liberal labor policies have prevailed across the nation.
The Rengo, Japanese Trade Union Confederation, proposes 'one percent of distribution' as a policy for Spring Offensive 2013. But the Keidanren, the Japan Business Federation, releases a report, called Keiroui Report which raises policy proposals on management and labor, concludes 'freezing regular wage hike' and slams the Rengo for its demand as unrealistic. General situations do not allow workers to rely on the Rengo, due to the low organization rate and lack of its influence among workers who fight in-house unions.
Judging from the policy line of Abe government, a trickle-down effect is unlikely. Conditions surrounding workers are harsh, the worst. Irregular workers, discriminated in the employment structure, are exposed to risky working conditions that may destroy their whole life.
According to the monthly statistics on workers' conditions (companies which have over five employees), a monthly income in cash terms accounts 275,250 Yen, a shrink by 0.8% in comparison with the level of last year. That reflects a wage reduction prevails in the country.
The basic investigation reports on working structure since 2003, too, shows a similar result: the number of workers whose annual income is less than 3 million Yen increases. Over a half of the working population get wages below 3 million Yen yearly. Over 12 million workers are categorized as so-called 'poor workers', whose annual income is below 2 million Yen.
Labor Laws Aggravate
Employment has fundamental rules: direct and of infinite term. In fact, however, related laws stray away into the opposite direction from the rules. They admit employment with a certain definite period. Any regulation has not been introduced. A regulation which sets forth a five-year employment may constitute an end of employment.
The 'revised' Worker Dispatch Act has been proven worse. Initial expectation was betrayed. In the name of rehabilitation and reconstruction from the disaster caused by the 3.11 Earthquake of 2011 the principle to prevent an alternative of regular employment is to be abandoned.
Only Way to go is to Struggle
Without militant labor movements a prospect for the future is not created. Workers learn their enemy in the struggles fought around themselves, and then they find a next task. A starting point is a concrete struggle against employment anxiety, a low wage, a long-time work, sexual harassment and power abuse.
Workers' ignorance means absence of the labor rights. Managers do know about laws but they prefer business gains. Consequently, the management justifies lack of legal system at workplaces. Workers have a sole option - to fight against lawlessness.
Struggle for a Concrete Issue
The most urgent task for labor movements today is to commit in the issues of irregular workers; more stable employment and better and more assured working conditions.
The labor side needs to make agenda clear so as to fight against the neo-liberal labor and social policies and improve workers' situation within the current social system: institutionalization of ordinance for public contracting system, realization of a rule of an identical wage on an identical value labor and implementation of a basic income scheme.
The Spring Labor Offensive 2013 should be integrated to a joint struggle or a unified struggle in which workers can find hope in a concrete manner.
January 29, 2013