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RENGO's 2014 Spring Labour Struggle Yields 2.2% Wage Hike

Average Wage Hike of 6,495 Yen; Average Wage Increase Rate of 2.2%
RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) carried out its third tally of wage hike settlements reached in the 2014 Spring Struggle for a Better Life as of the end of March.

RENGO's survey revealed that 1,962 unions that had demanded average wage hikes for members and engaged in labour-management negotiations had reached settlements by that time. This was an increase of 431 unions over the 1,531 unions that had achieved settlements by the same time last year, indicating that efforts to reach early settlements are making headway. The average wage hike in these settlements (including the regular wage hike) was 6,495 yen, the equivalent of 2.2% of the average wage before the hike. This figure was 1,211 yen more than at the same stage last year and up 0.40 percentage points.

Of unions with fewer than 300 members, 1,178 unions had extracted settlements, 279 more than at the same stage last year, which indicates that the efforts of small and medium-sized unions to obtain early settlements are making headway as well. The average wage hike in these settlements (including the regular wage hike) was 4,810 yen, 1.97% of the average wage before the hike. Wage levels in companies with unions of fewer than 300 members are lower than in larger companies, and the regular wage hike also is estimated to be around 4,500 yen. By contrast, the regular wage hike of union members in companies with more than 1,000 employees is estimated to be around 6,100 yen. Small and medium-sized unions engaged in negotiations with this regular wage hike of 4,500 yen as a minimum line, so they can be said to have exceeded their goal. The negotiations of small and medium-sized unions will continue until May. However, these negotiations can be expected to face difficulties, since many of the companies in which talks with unions are lagging are suffering poor business results. For this reason, industrial labour federations and regional branches of RENGO will offer support to small and medium-sized unions in their negotiations with management from now on, promote settlements, and also play a role in spreading the results achieved so far to unorganized workers. Incidentally, the average wage hike for unions with 300 or more members was 6,614 yen, showing clearly that a company-size gap exists.

12 Yen Hourly Wage Hike for Part-Time Workers
The RENGO survey also revealed that 129 unions had secured hourly wage hikes for nonregular workers (mainly part-time workers who have fewer working hours than regular employees and often have short employment contracts of two to three months). This was nearly double the corresponding number of unions at the same stage last year (69 unions). The average hourly wage hike was 12 yen, almost 3 yen less than the increase obtained at the same stage last year. The average hourly wage after the hike will be 935 yen. The average hike for nonregular workers on a monthly wage system (mainly so-called contract employees who have the same working hours as regular employees and often have employment contracts of one year or less) was 3,191 yen (up 504 yen over the same stage last year), or 1.62%.

These results of labour-management negotiations are available because the nonregular workers concerned are organized union members, but the wage situation of many unorganized nonregular workers remains unclear. According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, the number of part-time union members in 2013 was 914,000, up 77,000 over the previous year. The unionization rate was 6.5%, up 0.2 points over the previous year but still meaning that most part-time workers remain unorganized. The unionization of part-time and other nonregular workers is essential also for the realization of RENGO's aim to build a 10 million-strong organization.

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