Results of 2013 Spring Struggle
The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) recently announced the results of its survey on wage increases and other matters related with wage during 2013. Targeting private companies with 100 or more employees, the survey investigated monthly wages, excluding overtime pay and bonuses, with the aim of clarifying wage revision amounts, rates, methods, and so on in private companies around the country. Replies were received from 1,853 companies.
The survey results show that 79.8% of companies (75.3% in 2012) either raised wages or decided to raise wages in some form or other during the period from the beginning of this year until August, while 2.5% (3.9% in 2012) lowered wages and 12.9% (15.2% in 2012) did not make any wage revisions. The average wage revision amount per capita was 4,375 yen (4,036 yen in 2012), and the average wage revision rate was 1.5% (1.4% in 2012), which was the second-highest level in the past 10 years.
Regarding wage-hike methods, 86% of companies with such a system as regular wage hikes, which raise the basic wage according to age and length of employment, implemented the method, while only 11% implemented across-the-board basic wage hikes, which raise the basic wage uniformly.
When companies that implemented wage revisions or were scheduled to do so in 2013 were asked about what factors they emphasized most in deciding wage revisions (multiple response), the highest ratio of 66.1% of the companies replied "business performance" (60.9% in 2012), followed by "securing and retaining labour force" at 21.7% (22.7%) and "maintaining employment" at 20.4% (20.5%). These results suggest that while they place most importance on business performance (ability to pay), companies to an extent are also emphasizing jobs and labour.
The MHLW also investigated wage hikes in 2013 in large private companies (capitalized at 1 billion yen or more and with unions of 1,000 or more workers). Of the surveyed enterprises, the average settlement amount at 313 companies for which settlement amounts could be obtained (wage hikes including the regular wage increase) was 5,478 yen, which was 78 yen higher than the raise in 2012 (5,400 yen). Furthermore, the wage hike rate (compared with the average wage before negotiations) was 1.80%, which was up 0.02 points over the previous year (1.78%). Both the wage hike amount and the wage hike rate are higher than those revealed by the above-mentioned survey, which shows that a gap exists depending on company scale.
2014 Spring Struggle
In the 2014 spring struggle, RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) has proposed that unions should submit demands for monthly wage hikes (excluding overtime pay) of 3%-4% (of which 1% should be for the correction of disparities) in order to promote both economic growth and income recovery amid the present conditions in Japan of an upbeat economy and rising prices.