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Panel proposal for minimum wage increase is far from meeting the needs of workers


   The government Central Minimum Wage Council on August 10 recommended an increase of the locally established minimum wage by 14 yen on average (2.1 percent).


   The current national average of the hourly minimum wage is 673 yen (about 5.6 US dollars). Although the latest recommendation gives the largest increase since fiscal 2002, it is still far from laborfs demand for 1,000 yen.


   The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) and its member unions staged protests against the recommendation in front of the building where the Council was meeting.


   The panel proposal for the increase ranges from 6-7 yen for the lowest group that includes Aomori, to 19 yen for the highest group consisting of Tokyo, Osaka and 3 other prefectures.


   Speaking at the protest rally, Zenroren Vice President Oki Hisashi said, gIn Aomori Prefecture, minimum wage workers will not be paid more than 110,000 yen (about 920 US dollars) a month even after the proposed raise. Far from solving the problem of the working poor, it will only help to widen the gap between poor and rich.h


   gWe have created a current demand for a substantial minimum wage increase. The recent House of Councilors election showed that the public is demanding a significant increase,h Oki said.


   Regional minimum wage councils will use the guideline in considering specific increases to be proposed to prefectural labor bureau chiefs.


   In the deliberation at the subcommittee of the Central Minimum Wage Council, labor insisted on an increase of more than 50 yen, but the management side opposed it on the grounds that small- and medium-businesses cannot afford to pay that much.                      - Akahata, August 9 and 11, 2007




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