Representatives from the government, labor and employers reached an agreement in the trilateral meeting held in end of last year: ‘the business will make utmost efforts to raise wages of workers’. The decision marks the second of such an accord which reflects a policy of the Abe administration. Spring labor offensive was inspired and committed by the government last year. The same will be repeated this year, if the labor remains passive.
WORKERS NEED WAGES TO ASSURE DECENT LIFE WITH DIGNITY
The so-called Abenomics policy package, which is based on a trickle-down theory, has proven an illusion. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo encouraged the rich and Big Business to prosper with an intention to flow benefits into the lower strata of the society.
During the July-September period of last year, however, the GDP result aggravated by 1.9%, while the profits in the current accounts for all industries increased by 7.6%, compared with those of the same period of the previous year. That means the Abenomics exclusively favors the management side without leaving any payback for the workers’ side.
Formerly, the labor used to wage Spring Labor Offensives to raise wages. But in recent years the offensive is replaced with a trilateral agreement of the government, labor and business. The former two parties want to undermine the labor’s campaign, taking initiative to achieve successful performance in the economy. If the labor invites government to enter the workers’ domain, labor movements themselves may perish.
Seniority System Damaged
The first round of trilateral meeting was held in September last year to focus on the seniority wage system by which the longer workers are employed the higher wages they used to be paid. The meeting discussed how to reach a goal in which wages should be set in accordance with results based on a productivity principle rather than working hours. The Abe government commits in the labor’s crusade to seal off its influence on workers’ struggles.
Employers seek to: (1) reduce labor costs, (2) exempt from tax payments and (3) implement a flexible employment system to sack workers easily in order to heighten status of enterprises.
In fact figures on GDP dropped in the July-September period, following the previous three months from April to June (which is equivalent to a shrink by 9% on the annual basis). The government has changed its policy as dissatisfactions prevail. Claims are raised that ‘prosperity of big corporations does not reflect on medium-and-smaller enterprises’, or ‘wages do not catch up with price hikes of goods, resulting in poor individual consumption performance’.
These facts were incorporated in the December 12 decision in which the representatives of three sectors shared in common a notion that ‘the management will make the maximum efforts to raise wages through the government initiative to arrange conditions’. In this framework the labor’s demand were made unified as 2% of the basic salary for all industries, which the government and the management welcome.
The Keidanren, the Japan Business Federation, picked up 224 companies on December 26 which kept a pledge to surge wages during the period of January-June 2014 to announce that ‘salaries were raised well on the 100% level’. It just extracted convenient cases for the sake of publicity.
The Abe government is to convert this country to a zone where global enterprises could operate most expediently. It raises the consumption tax rate, while it reduces the corporate taxes. It implements a policy to heighten effective tax rates by 3.29%. Chairman of the Keidanren Sakakibara Sadayuki told in his New Year address that ‘a wage hike is an option. Competent firms should do it’. Only a few companies, however, are able to do it.
Satisfy Members of Trade Unions!
Union members have their demands and need leaders who take responsibility for policies to struggle and gain results. If union leaders commit only in individual negotiation, that will dampen aspirations of workers and ruin movements in the workplaces. Labor unions must defend and assist militant members in the workplaces, satisfy their demands and discharge duty for their struggles. Practices win workers’ trust.
Let’s fight for right wages to guarantee a decent life with dignity.
January 20, 2015