RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) on November 5-6 held a central committee meeting on the 2014 spring struggle for the betterment of livelihood (shunto) to discuss basic policy toward the improvement of wages and other working conditions in fiscal 2014 (April 2014 to March 2015). The meeting, which was held at the Hotel Lungwood in Tokyo, was attended by 533 representatives from affiliated organizations, RENGO regional branches, and related organizations from around the country.
In his address at the beginning of the meeting, RENGO President Nobuaki Koga emphasized, "Japanese society is an employment society in which employed workers and their families account for the majority. Over the past 15 or 20 years, however, employment and working conditions including wages have been severely damaged. RENGO is calling for a hike in the hourly wages of nonregular workers and the establishment of schemes for their transfer to regular status, and we want to pass on the results to unorganized nonregular workers as well. In order to break away from deflation and realize a favorable economic cycle, we must switch from a trickle-down policy, which argues that if the rich get richer, wealth will naturally spread down to the poor as well, to a bottom-up policy seeking to improve the lives of workers as a whole. RENGO's basic concept for the 2014 spring struggle for the betterment of livelihood, which we are proposing today, simultaneously promotes economic growth and better incomes. In the 2014 spring struggle, we must remember that the strength of trade unions and the social responsibility of labour and management are being questioned. All affiliated organizations must actively engage in campaigns to raise basic wages and monthly wages."
Next, Gakushuin University Professor Koichiro Imano gave a keynote speech titled "The Diversification of Employees and Work Rules," after which RENGO General Secretary Rikio Kozu proposed the basic concept for the 2014 spring struggle.
Stressing the importance of improving working conditions for all workers, General Secretary Kozu proposed wage demands in the 2014 spring struggle of 3% to more than 4%, consisting of a regular wage increase to maintain the wage curve of about 2%, a basic wage hike (the so-called base-up) of more than 1%, and a raise to correct disparities of around 1%. He also proposed positive efforts toward the realization of policy and system demands.
The participants then divided into three groups for discussions on the basic concept of the 2014 spring struggle by issue. In the plenary session on the second day, industrial federations and RENGO regional branches actively put forward their opinions concerning such matters as procedures for the struggle and efforts to improve working conditions in small and medium-sized companies.
Taking note of the opinions expressed in this meeting, RENGO is scheduled to hold further discussions in meetings of its Steering Committee (composed of president, vice presidents and general secretary) and Central Executive Committee and to finalize its policy at a meeting of the Central Committee on December 3.
On the basis of the basic concept indicated by RENGO, industrial federations will commence their own internal discussions, confirm matters in meetings of their executive committees in mid-December, and finalize an industrial federation policy in late January or early February next year. On the basis of these industrial federation policies, company-based unions, which conduct the actual negotiations with management, will submit their demands in mid-February, and negotiations will begin. Although the schedule will be discussed and decided from now on by RENGO's committee on strategy for the 2014 spring struggle, judging from past examples, the replies of large corporations, which mark the climax of the struggle, can be expected in mid-March.
Past related article
E-mail magazine No. 202 (2013/10/18) http://www.jilaf.or.jp/mbn/2013/196.html