In this year's Spring Labour Struggle for Betterment of Livelihood (shunto), the management of major companies in the automobile, electric machinery, and other manufacturing industries simultaneously gave replies to union demands on March 13, with many companies offering regular wage and bonus raises in excess of last year's levels, as demanded by their unions.
In order to break away from the prolonged recession and deflationary situation in Japan, where nominal wages have continued to decline for 15 years, RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) called for the "restoration of damaged employment and working conditions" in this spring's labour struggle, proposing, among other things, (1) improvement of the treatment of all workers, (2) the development and treatment of human resources to generate high added value, (3) the jacking up, improvement, and recovery of working conditions, (4) the correction of disparities, and (5) 1 % raise of the basic wage as a standard in order to improve wage and other working conditions.
Regarding wages, the unions of major manufacturers decided to forgo demands for a basic wage hike this time and instead called for the usual annual raise of regular wages, by which the monthly wage increases in accordance with age and number of years of employment, and a bonus hike.
Of 10 large companies in the automobile industry, 9 companies accepted their union's bonus demands in full. Furthermore, although Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) had stated immediately after the start of the spring struggle that it would be difficult to implement not only the basic but the regular wage hike as well, leading companies in the distribution industry attracted much attention when they announced the implementation of basic wage raises, showing that the management side also recognizes the need to give a spur to domestic personal consumption.
Following the simultaneous replies from major companies, from now on negotiations are continuing in small and medium-sized enterprises. Industrial federations are boosting their support for unions in small and medium-sized enterprises and in the regions with a view to reaching settlements by the end of March. Backed by their industrial federations, small and medium-sized unions are promoting negotiations aimed at the correction of disparities and the realization of wage hikes and equal and fair treatment. At the same time, in cooperation with the RENGO Headquarters, prefectural branches of RENGO are making efforts toward early settlements by strengthening the sharing of information between industrial federations and small and medium-sized unions in the prefectures and helping to form and spread standard wage-hike levels in each prefecture.
Replies as of March 14
Average wage hike (402 unions, 576,200 people): 5,273 yen, 1.74%
Average hourly wage hike for part-time workers (26 unions): 15.96 yen