Contingent workers in Zenroren meeting discuss their wage increase

Part-time workers and temporary workers from throughout Japan on May 12 and 13 discussed ways to strengthen their struggles for higher minimum wages and better working conditions.

The National Meeting of Contingent Workers was held in Ito City in Shizuoka Prefecture by the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) and was attended by 137 workers.

It was the first such meeting since Zenroren established the Liaison Council of Contingent Workers last November with the aim of increasing the movement among the 12 million contingent workers.

Speaking on behalf of the organizers, Kobayashi Yoji, Zenroren president said that a minimum wage raise for contingent workers is now a major issue in the labor movement, in both Zenroren and the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo).

Liaison Council Secretary Izutsu Momoko proposed launching a big movement calling for a revision of the law on part-time jobs and for improved and equal working conditions to be ensured for part-time and temporary workers. She also proposed pushing the government into ratifying the June 1994 ILO convention which calls for equal treatment for full-time and part-time workers.

Group discussions made clear that in many areas and industries regular workers are being replaced with part-time workers, part-time workers are being replaced with direct hires with lower wages, and that labor market mobility is increasing.

A contract teacher from Saitama prefecture said that he has a part-time job at a convenience store in order to earn his living.

A member of the Miyagi Prefectural Co-op Workers Union said that a consumer cooperative in the prefecture tried to cut its workers' wages on the grounds that they were higher than the regional average wage. He pointed out the need to join forces with unorganized workers in the area in order to increase the average wage of all workers.

A representative of the Yokohama City Contract Workers Council said that contract employees won a wage increase in collective bargaining talks which 100 workers attended to demand overtime pay, severance pay, and other benefits, even though regular employees were not offered a wage increase. (end)