Back number

No.114(2013/1/15)
2012 Basic Survey of Trade Unions (No. of Trade Unions and Union Members)

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) released the results of its 2012 Basic Survey of Trade Unions on December 18, 2012. The MHLW carries out this survey of all trade unions in Japan every year in order to clarify the actual situation regarding trade unions, such as the number of unions and union members and the distribution of union members at the enterprise, industrial, and national levels.

Number of trade unions and union members
As of June 30, 2012, the number of "single" and "unit" unions in Japan was 25,775, and the total number of their members was 9,892,000. Compared to the previous year, the number of trade unions had decreased by 277 (down 1.1%), and their membership had dropped by 68,000 (down 0.7%).

The estimated unionization ratio (that is, the ratio of union members to the total number of employed persons) was 17.9%, down 0.2% from the previous year. The number of women union members was 2,990,000, an increase of 31,000 (up 1.1%), and the estimated women unionization ratio (that is, the ratio of women union members to the total number of employed women) was 12.6%.

Situation at the industrial level
Looking at the membership of "unit" unions by industry, the manufacturing industry had the largest membership with 2,695,000 (27.4% of the total), followed by the wholesale and retail industry with 1,210,000 (12.3% of the total) and the public sector with 929,000 (9.4% of the total).

The biggest year-on-year increase in union members was seen in the wholesale and retail industry, which recorded an increase of 21,000 (up 1.8%). This was followed by the hotel, restaurant, and catering industry with an increase of 14,000 (up 11.3%). Substantial declines in membership were seen in the public sector (down 24,000, or 2.5%) and the manufacturing industry (down 20,000, or 0.7%).

Situation of part-time workers
The number of part-time workers who belonged to unions was 837,000, an increase of 61,000 (7.9%) over the previous year. Part-time workers accounted for 8.5% of all union members, and their estimated unionization ratio was 6.3%. Both of these ratios were the highest ever.

In view of this situation, RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) has adopted a policy of actively promoting the organization of unorganized workers and developing activities to strengthen its organization with the target of expanding from the present 6.8 million-strong organization to a "10 million-strong RENGO" by 2020.

Trends in the Number of "Single" Trade Unions, Number of Union Members, and Estimated Unionization Ratio

Year No. of "single" unions No. of union members No. of employed persons Estimated unionization ratio
  Difference from previous year Year-on-year
ratio
  Difference from previous year Year-on-year
ratio
  Unions Unions % (Unit:1,000 persons) (Unit:1,000 persons) % (Unit:10,000 persons) %
2007 27,226 -281 -1.0 10,080 39 0.4 5,565 18.1
        (2,857) (38) (1.4) (2,326) (12.3)
2008 26,965 -261 -1.0 10,065 -15 -0.1 5,565 18.1
        (2,858) (1) (+0.0) (2,348) (12.2)
2009 26,696 -269 -1.0 10,078 13 0.1 5,455 18.5
        (2,933) (75) (2.6) (2,331) (12.7)
2010 26,367 -329 -1.2 10,054 -24 -0.2 5,447 18.5
        (2,964) (31) (1.0) (2,311) (12.8)
2011 26,052 -315 -1.2 9,961 -93 -0.9 5,488 18.1
        (2,958) (-6) (-0.2) (2,339) (12.6)
2012 25,775 -277 -1.1 9,892 -68 -0.7 5,528 17.9
        (2,990) (31) (1.1) (2,370) (12.6)
Notes:
(1) Figures in parentheses are for women.
(2) Regarding the number of employed persons and estimated unionization ratio in 2011, the figures for Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures were excluded due to the difficulty of implementing the survey in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

"Single" union: A "single" union is a basic workers' union that each worker joins individually in accordance with its statute and that has lower internal organizations (branches, etc.).
"Unit" union: A "unit" union is a basic workers' union that each worker joins individually in accordance with its statute and that does not have any lower internal organizations (branches, etc.) conducting their own activities.
Part-time worker: A part-time worker is a worker other than a short-time regular worker whose daily working time is shorter than the daily working time of ordinary workers in that company (fewer than 35 hours per week); whose working days per week are fewer than the working days per week of ordinary workers in that company even though the daily working hours may be the same; or who is called a part-time worker in the workplace.

Copyright(C) JILAF All Rights Reserved.