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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 November 7 - 13  > Lower House committee passes two labor bills
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2007 November 7 - 13 [POLITICS]

Lower House committee passes two labor bills

November 8, 2007
The House of Representatives Labor Committee on November 7 passed a bill to revise the minimum wage law and a labor contract bill with a majority approval by the Liberal Democratic, Komei, and Democratic parties.

The Japanese Communist Party voted against the bill to revise the minimum wage law, asserting that it will not lead to a significant increase in the minimum wage. The JCP also expressed opposition to the labor contract bill on the grounds that it would allow employers to arbitrarily worsen the working conditions of their employees.

The Social Democratic Party opposed only the labor contract bill.

The bill to revise the minimum wage law will add to the current law a phrase that the minimum wage should be determined by taking into account the consistency with the standards for livelihood protection in order for the people to be able to “maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living.” The bill, however, failed to specify the wage level necessary to achieve such standards of living.

In the committee discussion prior to the voting, JCP representative Takahashi Chizuko pointed out that under the government policy of lowering the standards for livelihood protection, there is a possibility that the minimum wage could be lowered accordingly.

The national average of the minimum wage is 687 yen an hour (1.3 million yen a year), a level completely inadequate to meet basic needs. In determining the minimum wage, the government puts priority on “corporations’ ability to pay” over workers’ living standards and allows each prefecture to set their own minimum wage.

Takahashi also criticized the labor contract bill for allowing employers to worsen working conditions without having consent from workers by simply changing workplace regulations despite the fact that such conditions must be prescribed in the labor contracts which both workers and employers conclude on an equal footing.

Pointing out that the government and business circles are planning to establish in the labor contract law a system allowing employers to use severance pay to arbitrarily dismiss workers, Takahashi stressed that the bill is unacceptable because it will pave the way for further deregulations of labor laws.
- Akahata, November 8, 2007
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