RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) held a meeting to discuss the 2013 Spring Struggle for the Betterment of Livelihood (shunto) in an eastern suburb of Tokyo on November 7-8. The meeting on policy in the 2013 shunto for the improvement of wages and other working conditions was attended by 465 participants from RENGO's affiliates and local branches, as well as related organizations from all over Japan.
In his opening address to the meeting, RENGO President Nobuaki Koga emphasized that, comparing wages in 2011 and 1997, the average wage of workers in general had decreased by 4.1%. He also stressed that (1) the instability of Japanese society had exceeded a tolerable level and the recovery of a solid middle class was necessary; (2) people should not be considered simply as costs, and added value should be enhanced by making effective use of human resources; (3) the Japanese economy should be linked to a virtuous cycle of growth through the proper distribution of results; (4) RENGO should aim for a recovery of "damaged employment and working conditions" in order to realize its goal of a "secure society built around work as its core"; and (5) a campaign should be advanced to exit from deflation and low growth as soon as possible and promote decent work, including minimum wage increases and the fair and equal treatment of part-time workers and other non-regular workers.
Then, after a talk by Mr. Jitsuro Terashima, president of the Japan Research Institute, on the theme of "Global Structural Change and the Course to Be Taken by Japan," RENGO General Secretary Hiroyuki Nagumo proposed a "basic concept for the 2013 shunto."
General Secretary Nagumo emphasized that in order to recover from the "damaged employment and working conditions," the aim should be to improve the treatment of all workers; raise, recover, and maintain the level of working conditions; and correct disparities. He proposed that all trade unions should advance campaigns to demand 1% of distribution as a standard for wage raises and the improvement of working conditions.
As for 2013 policy and system demands, which constitute one of the two wheels of the RENGO movement together with the improvement of working conditions, General Secretary Nagumo proposed a campaign toward the realization of important matters, such as the creation of high-quality employment and regional vitalization by promoting the government's "Strategy for Rebirth of Japan."
After General Secretary Nagumo's speech, and into the following day, discussions took place in three subcommittees in light of the "basic concept for the 2013 shunto." Finally, the discussions in the subcommittees were reported to a full session.
With reference to the opinions expressed in this meeting, from now on the top executives of RENGO and its Central Executive Committee will hold further discussions on its policy for the 2013 shunto. RENGO is scheduled to finalize its policy at a meeting of the Central Executive Committee on December 5.