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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 January 9 - 15  > Spring Struggle starts with unionists calling for elimination of poverty through nationwide action
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2008 January 9 - 15 TOP3 [LABOR]

Spring Struggle starts with unionists calling for elimination of poverty through nationwide action

January 9, 2008
The 2008 Spring Struggle for higher wages and better working conditions began with union members taking action at 350 locations throughout the country.

The 2008 Spring Struggle for higher wages and better working conditions began on January 8 with union members taking action at 350 locations, including railway stations and factories, throughout the country. The action was called by the People’s Spring Struggle Joint Committee that includes the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren).

At an entrance to Tokyo Station, about 40 union members handed out leaflets demanding a fair share of corporate profits and Japan’s international contribution guided by the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution instead of by a new “anti-terrorism bill” that would turn Japan into a war-fighting country.

Speaking to commuters, Joint Committee chair and Zenroren President Ban’nai Mitsuo said, “In this new situation, we have an opportunity to heighten public awareness and increase the movement to change politics.”

He also stated that at a time when the poverty rate is increasing, the task is to wage the 2008 Spring Struggle by cooperating with people in all strata, including small- and medium-sized business owners, farmers, pensioners, and recipients of welfare benefits.

Ban’nai called for a nationwide struggle to eradicate poverty and win the minimum standards of well-being, including a wage increase, a raise in the minimum wage, fair and secure payment of unit prices to subcontractors, and price supports for farmers.

Tokyo Regional Council of Trade Unions Vice President Hirayama Kazuo stressed the need to block the new anti-terrorism special measures bill that is at a crucial stage in the current session of the Diet. He said, “Only by protecting Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution can Japan make a true international contribution. Let us put an end to the policy that disregards the Constitution.”

In Nagoya, union members assembled in front of Toyota Motor Corporation’s Nagoya office near Nagoya Station and urged the automaker to distribute a larger share of its profit to workers.

In Osaka, women part-time workers took the microphone in turns at Yodoyabashi Station. They said, “We are forced to work at 900 yen an hour, and we have not got a raise for many years. Let’s eliminate poverty by realizing the minimum wage of 1,000 yen or more.”

In Japan today, many large corporations are increasing their profits but the poverty rate is increasing and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Even business leaders are obliged to mention the need to boost domestic demand. There are high expectations for the Spring Struggle in achieving the healthy development of the Japanese economy.
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