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National Personnel Authority Recommends Monthly Wage Hike of 1,090 Yen (0.27%) for National Public Employees

On August 7 the National Personnel Authority (NPA; a neutral, third-party body) recommended to the government and the National Diet that the monthly wage of national public employees should be raised by 1,090 yen (0.27%) from the current level of 408,472 yen in fiscal 2014 and that bonuses should be increased by 0.15 months from the present level of 3.95 month worth of wages a year. For general administrative staff, the monthly salary of a 30-year-old official (with spouse) would be revised from 233,300 yen to 235,000, and that of a 40-year-old section chief (with spouse and two children) would be revised from 325,100 yen to 326,400 yen.

RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) issued a statement saying that the recommendation reflects wage hikes obtained by private-sector unions in the 2014 spring labour struggle and that a first salary increase for national public employees in seven years would be welcome, adding that the government and National Diet should implement the recommendation ad verbum as soon as possible.

The NPA issues its annual recommendation to align the wages of public employees with private-sector levels as a compensatory measure for restriction of their basic trade union rights including the right to strike. After the recommendation is made, it has to receive cabinet approval, and then a wage revision bill has to be submitted to the Diet. The recommendation is finally implemented after enactment of this bill. Usually the process from issue of the recommendation in early August to enactment and implementation takes about four months.

In Japan there are 641,000 national public employees and 2.76 million local public employees. The NPA's recommendation this time covers 275,000 national public employees (average age 43.3 years), including general administrative staff, diplomats, and tax officials. Most of the other national public employees have special posts, such as the prime minister and other cabinet ministers, members of the National Diet, judges, and their secretaries. Although the salaries of these special public employees are determined by a separate wage act, until now this act has always been revised in accordance with the wage revision for general administrative staff. In the case of local public employees, revisions are deliberated and decided in local government assemblies on the basis of recommendations by personnel committees set up in each region.

The latest NPA recommendation includes a comprehensive review of the wage system scheduled to be implemented from April 2015. Among other things, this comprehensive review consists of recommendations to (1) lower salary table levels by an average 2% and widen regional wage gaps by redistributing regional allowances and other measures and (2) increase the allowance for public employees living away from their families, the allowance for wide-area transfers, and the allowance for working in central government ministries.

According to RENGO, "It is a problem that adequate consultations with labour unions have not taken place despite the fact that such a review concerns the very roots of the wage system for national public employees. Furthermore, discussions with the RENGO-affiliated Liaison Committee of Public Employees' Unions should be continued so as also to ensure the morale of regional public employees who are earnestly engaged in restoration and reconstruction following the Great East Japan Earthquake."

From now on regional personnel committees are scheduled to submit their recommendations on the wages of local public employees. RENGO commented, "From the perspectives of the local autonomy principle and the realization of high-quality administrative services, we strongly urge local governments to respect labour-management negotiations."

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