Major companies disregard Spring Struggle with self-centered counterproposals: Akahata editorial on March 18, 2002 (excerpts)

In the 2002 Spring Struggle, major electronics companies have proposed wage cuts and ƒApostponement or a freeze of regular pay raises to their trade unions. In the metal industry, most companies have offered "zero" wage increases. Such counterproposals from management are nothing but a challenge to workers and trade unions to resist.

The counterproposals will lead to an adverse revision of working conditions. For example, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has announced that it will cut extra pay for overtime from 130 percent of regular pay to 125 percent, decrease allowances for business trips and temporary transfers, and reduce compensation for absence from work.

Managements are saying that they are in a critical condition with heavy deficits, but this is not true. In the settlement of accounts in March 2001, six electronics companies showed a loss of 1.68 trillion yen in total. But the amount included the front-loading of several years' restructuring costs such as extra allowances for early retirement and plant closure expenses.

These major companies' business slump is a result of excessive equipment investment that they have continued based on optimistic prospects until the information technology bubble burst. The management are responsible for the worsened business performance.

Far from facing a crisis of bankruptcy, the six electronics companies have about 13 trillion yen in internal reserves. They are forcing workers into accepting restructuring and wage cuts, and are planning to get large profits next year. Such a self-centered strategy must not be allowed.

Disregarding labor agreements, the management are enforcing wage decreases and adverse revisions of working conditions on workers. This is unreasonable because working conditions should not be enforced by employers on employees but should be decided after mutual agreement. The management have obligations to observe the labor agreements and act in line with them.

It is impermissible that the management change labor agreements, the principal aim of which is to guarantee workers' rights, to disadvantageous ones for workers in order to secure company profits.

Unless major companies take measures other than wage cuts and restructuring, Japan's economy won't get out of the vicious circle of drops in personal income and consumption, stagnant company production, and recession.

Major companies should withdraw their proposals of wage cuts and adverse revisions of working conditions, and distribute the huge amount of internal reserves to workers and subcontractors. To protect workers' living conditions and jobs is a social task for major companies. (end)