Labor Offensive has begun campaigns in many workplaces. ‘The offensive has
ended its life’ – a phase repeated many times. In the year 2019 the saying seems
to be true. The situation in workplaces, however, is harsh for workers and they
desperately need labor offensive. Workers have a history, experiences and
legacies. Let’s fight so that the year 2019 will be a year of retrieval of
RETRIEVE WORKERS’ LIFELINE, JOINT STRUGGLES!
demands and wage hikes are not announced publicly
Labor-Employer Forum sponsored by the Keidanren, or the Japan Business Federation,
began on January 28, and, simultaneously, did the labor offensive 2019.
Minister Abe Shinzo has committed in the annual labor struggles, ostensibly playing
a mediator’s role, for consecutive five years to show off his zeal to employers
to help raise wages. But this year he keeps a low profile, observing cautiously
performance of businesses impacted by the trade conflict between the United States and China. He has just urged employers
to hike wages. The Keidanren, however, expresses a feeling of discomfort,
saying that the administrative wing cannot intervene in the pay increase
Rengo, or the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, proposes a 4% increase, which
is a total of a 2% of basic salary raise and another 2% of the annual growth
rate. Reportedly, the confederation has a policy to correct gaps produced intensely
between big businesses and medium-small-sized companies.
focal point this year will be put on behaviors of trade unions of automobile industries,
The Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers’ Unions (JAW, 780,000 members),
which used to play a key role in setting a salary increase level, presents a
policy not to announce a unified demand on the basic salary increase rate. It
is reported that its stance is to focus on rectification of pay gaps among
workers. Big companies set a higher basis of salaries, while the smaller
enterprises do a lower one, thus discrepancies grow bigger, if the rate is made
public. A demand to set ‘an absolute sum of wage’ can be appreciated if it is realized,
as it may bridge the gaps.
Rengo end its life, too?
feels something deceptive, however, about the Rengo’s policy: the confederation
admits a fact that companies should not publicly announce individual demands of
hike and results of salary negotiation talks between labor and management. That
means workers’ wage struggles are not regarded as labor offensive. The Spring
Offensive appears to have terminated in both nominal and real terms. In other
words, the Rengo, a national center, has died.
spring labor offensive represents workers’ joint trade union struggles covering
unions of many industries. It began to struggle in 1955, integrating unions of
eight industries. The campaign tactic is characterized by conditions in the
country: comparing with trade unions of foreign countries where unions are
organized on the industry basis, in Japan enterprise-based unions are
of a usual case, in which a labor union bases on a contract of employment
between workers and employers. The said tactic is valid to overcome this
trade unions of big corporations and the federation of employers do not make public
the sums demanded by unions and concluded in the subsequent negotiation, a
unified struggle cannot be fought. A national center, which ensures workers to
get united to fight, too, will vanish in both theoretical and practical terms. Do
Japanese workers need a national center, or not?
8-hour work system guarantees worker’s life
so-called irregular workers occupy almost 40% of the total workforce and over
20 million workers are regarded as ‘working poor’, whose annual income is on
the line of minimum wage. In the municipality offices across the country, too,
one-third of employees work on the irregular basis. Wage gaps in the public
sector are bigger than those of the private sector.
problem does not remain here. An organizational ratio of workers into trade
unions is only 17% here in Japan.
That means many workers are not only unable to lead a decent life but also
deprived of potential to fight.
united struggle is indispensable to save workers from the working-poor plight; that
is to guarantee the minimum wage, to pay an identical salary to an identical
job, and implement the 8-hour work system which prevents workers from dying from
overwork and mental diseases.
Labor Offensive of the year 2019 must be fought to declare retrieving joint
struggles of workers. Get ready and resolved.