Zenroren organizes national concerted action calling for jobs and higher wages

Unions affiliated with the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) in all 47 prefectures carried out a concerted action on February 20 against the government plan to force salaried workers to pay more for medical services and for the defense of jobs against corporate restructuring and for higher base wages.

The government and ruling parties have agreed to make salaried workers pay 30 percent, instead of the present 20 percent, of their medical charges from April 2003.

In Kyoto, union members distributed handbills criticizing the Koizumi structural reform scheme throughout the prefecture.

In Saitama Prefecture adjacent to Tokyo, 20,000 people took part in the action at 86 places, the largest number ever for such action. In Hiroshima, in which a large-scale restructuring by Ford-Mazda is under way, union activists made representations to the company calling on it to stop restructuring.

The day's concerted action took a variety of forms to meet the local needs.

One thousand people were in the action in Chiba, protesting against the government credit policy which forced the Funabashi Credit Union, which had close ties with the local economy, to go bankrupt.

In land-locked Gifu prefecture in the Chubu region, Zenroren made representations to the employers' association in the prefecture, calling for an increase of 15,000 yen in the base wage aimed at boosting workers' purchasing power as an urgent need for the regional economy. In Kumamoto Prefecture in the Kyushu region, Zenroren petitioned the prefectural labor bureau, calling for a uniform national minimum wage system to be established.

* * *

The Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), another national trade union center, on the day carried out a sit-in by 1,000 people in front of the Diet building, in opposition to increased share of medical charges to be imposed on workers.

Rengo President Sasamori Kiyoshi told the people there that the plan for increased medical charges on workers is typical of the government policy of afflicting the weak with more burdens, which is intolerable. He called for a political change by joining hands with the public. (end)