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Women part-timers get 30 yen hourly pay raise for the first time in 10 years, but wage discrimination persists

"I'm so glad. I owe it to you." At the news of the wage increase, a woman part-time worker hugged Ban Kiyoko because she knew well that Kiyoko and other part-timers distributed flyers and negotiated with the company for equal treatment of part-time workers.

A focus of this year's Spring Struggle is a call for the improved treatment of non-regular workers, including part-time and other contingent workers.

Kiyoko, 54, has been a part-time worker for 27 years at a financial institution in Aichi Prefecture. Her hourly pay will be increased to 900 yen effective April 1 after it had been pegged at 870 yen for ten years.

Her 27 years of service is much longer than regular workers' average length of work, which is 17 years. The same essential duties have been assigned to her as are to regular workers. Although she works from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., only 15 minutes less than full-time workers' working hours, her monthly pay last year was about 80,000 yen, with 18,000 yen in bonuses. A male full-time worker of the same age and same academic background received 566,000 yen a month plus 896,000 yen in bonuses.

The financial institution is replacing more women regular employees with part-time and temporary workers. Non-regular workers now account for 60 percent of all women workers.

Kiyoko negotiated with the company and won a room to rest in for part-timers and a withdrawal of a dismissal order for women part-timers.

Kiyoko said, "Our requests have borne fruit. But the wage is far from being enough for women to make ends meet. We are still far behind regular employees in terms of wages and benefits."
- Akahata, March 29, 2006

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