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HOME  > Past issues  > 2011 July 27 - August 2  > Zenroren: substantial minimum wage increase needed to restore disaster victims’ lives
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2011 July 27 - August 2 [LABOR]

Zenroren: substantial minimum wage increase needed to restore disaster victims’ lives

July 28 & 29, 2011
The Welfare Ministry’s Central Minimum Wages Council on July 27 made a recommendation to increase regional minimum hourly wages ranging from 1 yen to 18 yen, a 6 yen increase to 736 yen on average.

During the tripartite council’s discussions, in which labor, management and experts took part, the management side was unwilling to raise minimum wages, alleging a negative impact on small- and medium-sized enterprises in the disaster-hit region. As a result, the recommended increase in the national average of minimum wages has turned out to be less than the 10 yen increase set in the previous year.

Regional minimum wages will ultimately be determined by each local council.

The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) issued a statement on the same day criticizing the recommendation not only as widening the gaps between prefectures but also “as being inappropriate.”

Zenroren said that the recommendation “will likely discourage the budding move for a raise in the level of minimum wages and support for small- and medium-sized businesses.”

Zenroren stressed that general hourly wages for disaster-recovery contracts in the disaster-affected region are barely equivalent to the minimum wage standard and that workers engaged would earn less than 1.7 million yen annualy. “A drastic increase in minimum wages will revitalize the economy in the disaster-affected areas and contribute to reconstruction of small businesses there,” said Zenroren.

Zenroren calls on its member unions to strengthen their movement pressing their local minimum wage councils to demand a further raise in the amount than called for in the central council recommendation.

The Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) in its statement also said, “The recommendation is not so satisfying.”

* * *

Workers hold day of action demanding drastic increase in minimum wages

About 1,500 workers, including those from the three disaster-hit prefectures, on July 28 staged a day of action in protest against an unacceptably small raise in regional minimum wages recommended by the Central Minimum Wage Council on the previous day.

Calling for an increase in the minimum hourly wage nationwide to 1,000 yen, participants in the action, which was organized by the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) and the People’s Spring Struggle Joint Committee, petitioned Dietmembers and the Japanese government.

During the lunch break, they held a rally at Hibiya Amphitheater.

In the rally, a representative of the National Union of General Workers affiliated with Zenroren pointed out that the recommended increase in minimum wages in disaster-hit prefectures is only 1 yen and said, “In order to restore disaster victims’ lives, the most pressing need is to raise minimum wages drastically.”

After the rally, participants marched in demonstration through the Ginza, a shopping street near the administrative district in Tokyo, showing to passers-by placards and banners calling for a reconstruction of the disaster-hit region through a drastic minimum wage hike.
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