The 2017 Spring Labor Offensive has begun. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo told ‘a pay scale hike similar to that of the previous year’ in his personal advisory panel, ‘Council on Implementation of Work Style Reforms’. He is to intervene in the season’s labor offensive for the fourth time to incorporate workers in his domain. The long-established labor offensive held in early spring may vanish, unless workers are determined to resolutely struggle.
SPRING LABOR OFFENSIVE MAY VANISH IF STRUGGLES ARE ABSENT
Premier Abe requested the employers’ circle to raise workers’ salary for four straight years, saying that an increase should be at least as equal as to that of the preceding year. He expressed his hope on November 16, 2016, in the 3rd meeting of the Council on Implementation of Work Style Reforms.
Employers Tie Closely with Government
Chairman Sakakibara Sadayuki, Keidanren, or Japan Business Federation, told in the press meeting a day before the premier’s statement that he wanted business entities to raise a salary as a year-basis total by arranging options, which include increases in the regular pay, basic salary, temporary payments and other allowances in response to performance of each entity. Chairman used a word, options. That means that the employers’ side had agreed to the government’s offer, a salary hike on the annual basis.
The Keidanren held a regular press meeting on December 5 when representatives of the federation explicitly told that: ‘the employers’ side shares the policy with the Abe government’.
They said that ‘an agreement on wages should be reached through sincere negotiation between the labor and the management of each company. A concrete wage level is to be set on the basis of business performance of each company. Judgment should be made on the basis of performance and productivity,’ It rejected a policy of universal wage hike for labor unions, preferring individual negotiation agreements.
In the TV news program a young working lady was responding to a question raised by a reporter at the Shimbashi Station, Tokyo:
‘How does your salary go up?’
‘Prime Minister Abe will help us. I hope he will do a good job.’
The conversation reflects a fact.
The labor has involved in the offensive, calling for engagement of the government since the second-round Abe administration ? a government-sponsored labor campaign.
If the 2017 Labor Offensive does commit in this way, the situation reminds us of revival of the war-time Patriotic Industrial-Labor Association.
The Keidanren released January 17 a document, the Report of the Special Committee on Labor and Management Policies, which will serve as a guideline for the employers’ side in the 2017 Offensive. It emphasizes on ‘reforms of work style’, specifying rectification of a long-hour working practice and dynamic engagement of women and young people. It tries to shift an attention of workers from a wage hike to efforts in improving working style.
Internal Capital Reserves Expand
The report refers to the labor offensives sponsored by the government for the past three years. It proudly says that people’s income has grown due to wage hikes on the annual basis for three straight years as a result of excellent achievements in the corporate profits.
In fact, however, a wage level in real term of November 2016 was minus 2%. Every family faces a deficit-ridden home economy. Meanwhile, the management enjoys huge profits. The total sum of internal capital reserves in the Fiscal 2015 recorded 377 trillion and 868.9 billion Yen, which is as twice as much of that of 10 years ago. It expanded by 96 trillion Yen for four years. Big Business is very happy and the Japan’s GDP (the July-September period) ranks in the third place in the world. On the per capita basis, however, Japan is in the 20th of 35 OECD countries. Consequently consumer spending keeps declining on the per person basis.
Major labor unions demand a 2% wage increase in addition to a sum equal to regular hikes (a hike by over 20 thousand Yen, which are proposed by the Zenrokyo=the National Trade Union Council and the Zenroren=the National Confederation of Trade Unions). The request is similar to that of last year. The management side clings to a temporary arrangement pay policy to meet the targeted sum, rejecting an increase in the basic wage. Employers say that the Spring Labor Offensive is a table of negotiation between workers and the partner-management. This is a tactic of deception. Don’t sit at such a table.
February 7, 2017