RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) held a meeting of its Central Committee in Tokyo on December 3 and decided its policy for the 2014 spring struggle for the betterment of livelihood (shunto). From now on, industrial federations will decide their own policies on the basis of RENGO's policy and then during the middle of February in 2015 company-based unions will submit their demands to their company managements in coordination with the industrial federations to which they are affiliated. Negotiations will then take place between company-based unions and their company managements in the hope of concluding final agreements by some specific date in March (Refer to "Flow of the Spring Struggle" below).
RENGO's Policy: 3%-4% Wage Hike Demand
In its policy, RENGO asserts that the foundations for sound growth of the Japanese economy and society lie in the ability of working people to work without anxiety and with stable jobs. The reality, however, is that 38.2% (20.43 million persons) of employed workers are nonregular workers, and 23.9% (11 million persons) of income earners are so-called working poor, with an annual income of less than 2 million yen.
RENGO urges all-out efforts in the 2014 spring struggle to correct these damaged employment, wage, and working conditions toward the realization of better working conditions for all working people. Specifically, in view of the fact that the Japanese economy is recovering and prices are rising, RENGO's policy calls for ensuring a regular wage hike (about 2%) and a further wage increase (more than 1%) to cover such things as consumer price increases in fiscal 2014 and productivity improvements. In addition, RENGO advocates a demand for a wage hike in the region of 1% to correct disparities and distortions in income distribution, calling on unions to make the utmost efforts to raise and support the base and correct disparities. Accordingly, RENGO's policy is to demand a monthly wage hike, excluding overtime pay, of 3%-4%.
Unions in Small and Medium-Sized Companies to Demand 9,500 Yen Hike
When this standard is applied to unions in small and medium-sized companies, it is translated into a demand for 5,000 yen excluding the regular wage hike and 9,500 yen including the regular wage hike. This demand includes a hike to correct the wage disparity with large companies. The average wage in small and medium-sized companies surveyed by RENGO is around 249,000 yen. From the same survey, RENGO also estimates the level of the regular wage hike to be around 4,300 yen.
Demand for at Least 30 Yen Raise in Hourly Wages of Part-time Workers
In order to improve the conditions of nonregular workers, regarding wage hikes for part-time workers and so on, RENGO urges unions that have not achieved an hourly wage of 800 yen to aim for that level and those unions that have achieved a level of 800 yen to aim for 1,000 yen. Furthermore, from the perspective of aiming for equal and balanced conditions with regular employees, RENGO is strengthening efforts to introduce and clarify wage hike rules. As a guideline for hourly wage hikes, since it is necessary to lift up the base and correct disparities, RENGO urges unions to demand an increase of 30 yen.
The Other Wheel of RENGO Movement: Efforts to Realize Policy and System Demands
As well as efforts to improve wages and other working conditions, the other wheel of the RENGO movement in the 2014 spring struggle involves efforts to improve the livelihood of the people and correct disparities through the realization of policy and system demands. Specifically, RENGO is conducting efforts in cooperation with member organizations and prefectural level RENGO locals mainly to (1) promote measures for the realization of a virtuous economic cycle; (2) steadily advance integrated reform of the social security and tax systems; (3) raise the minimum wage; (4) establish the equal and balanced treatment of nonregular workers; (5) enact a basic public contract law and public contract ordinances and implement measures to assist small and medium-sized companies; and (6) realize reform of the civil servant system and establish basic trade union rights for public employees.