The Keidanren, the Japan Business Federation, issued a 2018 report of the Special Committee on Management and Labor Policy, in which a ‘3% wage hike’ is specified, with a concrete figure, for the first time. The description responds to the demand of Abe government to survive in the deflationary economic trend. The so-called government-sponsored Labor Offensive commemorates its 5th round this spring. The 2018 Spring Labor Offensive will test significance and potential of labor movements.
LET’S MAKE 2018 GOOD YEAR FOR WORKING PEOPLE!
Excellent Business Performance
The season’s Labor Offensive will be staged soon on a full scale. It is reported that current earnings of Japanese business as of early March 2018 will record the highest in the history thanks to the Abenomics policy as the economic activities surpass the best boom.
A ratio between employment and workforce counts 1.56, a high level after 43 years and ten months. As for a ratio of job-offers to job-seekers for regular employment is 1.05, which is the highest since the statistics was kept.
The economic performance is good and demand for workforce is tight. Wages, however, do not rise. The Bank of Japan set the 2% target of price increase rate, but it is not achieved successfully. Under these circumstances the 2018 Labor Offensive is crucial to change the situation better for workers.
Demand Wage Increase ? over 3%
Prime Minister Abe told that he expected a 3% wage hike would be realized in the labor-management dialogues. This is for the first time for the premier to refer to a concrete figure, though he has demanded the employers to increase salaries in the past. In addition, the government will introduce a new corporate tax to favor companies that make efforts to heighten wages. Thus, the government-sponsored labor offensive has now more tricky effects on overall labor movements.
Rengo keeps low-keyed policy
The Rengo, Japan Trade Union Confederation, has its 2018 Policy for Spring Labor Offensive: the confederation keeps the 4% demand policy (2% of which is for a regular wage hike) maintained since 2015. According to news reports, the labor center does not raise the standard level, but encourages medium-and-small-sized firms, including sub-contractors, to surge the bottom level salaries. Trade unions in general take no combative stance as they keep a habitual posture.
It is clear that workers cannot win a wage hike as long as they stay within the framework of the tripartite campaign of productivity improvement, promoted by the government, employers and the labor.
Reconstruct Spring Labor Offensive!
Today labor campaigns are rare and are not shared by many, but surrounding circumstances are more and more acute. Unfortunately, however, union-management cooperation national centers lead labor movements. Consequently, a problem emerges on the side of labor, in particular, its independent posture. That is why solidarity cannot be built up on regional and national levels. Labor movements are absorbed into the employers’ fields, confined in the individual companies and fragmented. Militancy is discouraged further.
Other facts must be pointed out simultaneously: decreases of workers of the state’s basic industries, who used to play a leading role in the labor movements in Japan, increases of workers of the tertiary industries in which trade unions have not been organized, and a sharp rise in the number of part-time workers and irregular employees. Workers in this category are the most affected and discontented, but they are left unorganized.
Therefore, the urgent task is to get to the point of origin of class struggle; to build up movements in every locality, integrating all, whether workers are employed on the regular basis or irregular one, or, employed in the public sector or in the private sector.
A campaign is scheduled ? National Caravan to oppose Aggravation of Labor Laws. Let’s prepare for real struggles in the coming Spring Labor Offensive.
January 30, 2018