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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 March 13 - 19  > Workers walk out in protest against corporate response offering tiny pay hike
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2019 March 13 - 19 [LABOR]

Workers walk out in protest against corporate response offering tiny pay hike

March 14&15, 2019

In protest against corporate responses offering small pay increases, unions affiliated with the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) on March 14 participated in rallies, demonstrations, and strikes throughout Japan.

On the previous day, in a pivotal round of this year’s “shunto” wage talks, major companies gave their responses which fell far short of meeting unions’ demands for a higher basic pay hike.

In the auto industry, Toyota Motor avoided making public its response, but it is reported that the company offered a monthly wage hike of 10,700 yen which includes regular wage increases. Honda and Subaru proposed to raise the basic wage by 1,400 yen and 1,000 yen a month, respectively.

Major electronics makers such as Hitachi, Panasonic, and NEC only met one third of unions’ joint demand with a 1,000 yen increase in the monthly base pay. As for the ship building and heavy machinery industries, IHI and other major manufacturers offered a pay-scale increase of 1,500 yen in response to unions’ unified demand for a 3,500 yen raise.

Despite their huge amounts held in internal reserves, large corporations responded with offers well below unions’ demands. This indicates that Prime Minister Abe’s economic policy based on the “trickle-down” theory has collapsed.

Members of the Japan Metal, Manufacturing, Information and Telecommunication Workers’ Union (JMITU), who work at Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) and its group companies, on March 14 went on strike at their workplaces in protest against the company’s negative response.

The IT and telecommunication services giant last year increased its internal reserves by 652.4 billion yen to 10.9 trillion yen. However, in this year’s spring wage negotiations, NTT offered regular workers a basic wage-rate raise of 700 yen plus a performance-based cash bonus of 1,300 yen on average while refusing to increase the hourly wage for contract workers 60 years and older.

At a rally that JMITU members held in front of the NTT head office building to declare the start of their walk-out, union officer in charge of the affairs related to telecommunication workers Usami Toshikazu criticized NTT for being unwilling to distribute a portion of its huge profits to workers in wages. Usami also stressed that as the NTT’s offer includes a performance-based bonus, it would expand inequalities among NTT workers. He expressed his determination to work hard to push the company to reconsider the offer.

The Japan Federation of Medical Workers' Unions (Iroren), the National Union of Welfare and Childcare Workers (Fukushi-Hoikuro), and the Federation of Cinema and Theatrical Workers Union of Japan (Ei-en Roren) also staged strikes at various workplaces.

Fukushi-Hoikuro members in their strikes demanded government measures to solve labor shortages in the nursing-care and childcare industries and help increase care workers’ wages which are 100,000 yen lower than other industry workers’ wages.

Past related articles:
> Worker-oriented reforms plus \25,000 wage hike will push up GDP by \34.8 trillion: Labor thinktank [January 17 & 21, 2019]
> Union workers go on nationwide strike [March 16, 2018]

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