RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) held a meeting of its Central Committee in Chiba Prefecture on November 27 and decided its policy for the 2016 spring struggle for the betterment of livelihood (shunto). In order to realize a positive cycle of the Japanese economy, the policy emphasizes the raising and uplifting of wages and the correction of disparities. Regarding small and medium-sized firms, RENGO advocates a wage hike of more than 10500 yen. And regarding nonregular workers, it urges the introduction and clarification of rules for their switch to regular employment status and wage hikes aimed at realizing a level of at least 1000 yen per hour for everyone.
While maintaining the conventional spring struggle strategy of having large company unions set the market level for wage hikes and letting it filter down throughout the whole labour force, RENGO states clearly that it will try and promote a campaign that moves away from the structure of following and complying with unions in large companies and urges unions in small and medium-sized firms to take the initiative and conduct their own independent activities.
RENGO President Rikio Kozu stated, "For this purpose also, it is necessary for us even more than last year to emphasize dialogue with society and engage in an open spring struggle. We must spread the social awareness that in order to create the financial sources for improving working conditions, it is necessary to ensure that added value is distributed through fair business between companies and returned to workers."
RENGO proposes wages demands totaling around 4%, consisting of a basic raise of around 2% plus the regular wage hike. RENGO recognizes that in order to realize a positive economic cycle, it is necessary to raise the wages of employed workers by about 2%. In monetary terms, from the perspective of correcting disparities with large companies, this means that unions in small and medium-sized forms should demand around 10,500 yen, the same as last year.
Regarding nonregular workers, RENGO places special emphasis on their switch to regular employment or unfixed-term status. Citing the aim of realizing a level of at least 1,000 yen per hour for everyone, it proposes an hourly wage hike of 37 yen in cases where this level has already been reached.
In the discussions, the Japanese Association of Metal, Machinery, and Manufacturing Workers (JAM) expressed its support for a policy oriented toward the realization of a positive economic cycle and stated that such a campaign would also foretell wage hikes in 2017 and beyond. Shitetsu Soren (General Federation of Private Railway and Bus Workers’ Unions of Japan) explained the current labour shortage and said that "We intend to compose our demands in accordance with this line of around 4%."