Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has newly set up an advisory panel to prepare for the regular labor offensive of 2016. He has abandoned the Council of Political, Labor and Business Leaders, and with exclusion of the labor sector was held a meeting of the Dialogue for Investment Program between government and private sectors. The government takes initiative to boost ‘a government-led Spring Labor Offensive’ to propose ‘a wage and basic salary hike’ after that meeting which was attended by major political and financial elites.
LET’S ENHANCE STRUGGLES AT WORKPLACES TO WIN WAGE HIKES!
Prime Minister Abe dared to mention in his greetings at the Keidanren, the Japan Business Federation, on December 24 last year; ‘due to the Three-Arrow policy, economy of Japan has revived perfectly. The nominal GDP rose by 28 trillion Yen, exceeding in total 500 trillion Yen. Over 1.1 million jobs were created. Profits of corporations show good performance, too. Wages have been surging for 17 years to go to the highest point. Winter bonuses reached a peak. The economy will soon surpass deflation. A factor to reach a good economic cycle lies in a third round of wage hike measure and impetus for capital investment’.
Phony Economic Theory
In his New Year address Premier stated that ‘deflation was crushed by a boosting start of the economy’. His arrogance is endorsed by phony economic measures. He says that the GDP has increased by 28 trillion Yen, but profits are concentrated in the hands of big business. The GDP’s international order ranks in the third place, but that of per capita falls to the 27th position. A 1.1 million job increase represents a swell of irregular workers, counting 21.10 million, which occupy 40% of total workforce. The ratio of regularly-employed workers has declined sharply.
The average annual salary of the irregular workers amounts 1.69 million Yen in the private sector (announcement of the National Tax Administration Agency). They remain poor though they work hard. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor announced real-term wages last November, but irregular-base workers complain ‘a bonus is not paid’, or ‘a less amount is paid’. A ratio of irregular workers has risen while the salary level has dropped by 0.4%. This is the reality behind ‘the highest salary hike of 2015’ which Prime Minister Abe boasted of.
Premier Abe’s economic policy is called Abenomics. His ‘trickle-down-effect’ favors the rich and big business and benefits do not come to smaller businesses and workers. Operating public funds of 140 trillions Yen for pensions in the financial market, the government has heightened stock prices to elevate status of big business. Employers have expanded internal reserves amounting 354 trillion Yen. They are full of self-confidence together with investors.
Labor’s Vulnerability Targeted
Employers enjoy big surplus ? a good condition for a wage hike in the labor offensive. The labor faces a decisive phase: whether they follow the government-sponsored labor maneuver or they fight at workplaces to win right wages on the basis of living conditions. Industrial sectors have proposed a little less hikes this year, compared with those of last year. The Rengo, the Japan Trade Union Confederation, demands a 2% hike in the basic salary and the International Metal-Workers’ Federation Japan Council presents an increase by 3 thousand Yen of basic salary. Both of them constitute just a half of those of last offensive.
The Keidanren carefully analyzes vulnerability of the labor. On January 19 it published a report compiled by the Special Council for Policies on Management and Labor Issues. Recognizing modest demands from the labor side, the employers’ federation focuses on ‘a small addition to annual income, including bonuses and benefits’, assuming reduction from the previous results. If the labor dances to the music of Premier Abe, who mentions ‘a three-consecutive-year salary hike’, the offensive will be beaten even in the government’s agenda.
If labor unions lose ‘a good wage hike’ and ‘struggles from workplaces’, they will be unsuccessful in their demands to cope with higher taxes and inflation. The metal workers’ Japan Council has set the date of agreement on March 16.
February 2, 2016