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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 March 14 - 20  > Unions in Spring Struggle obtain wage raise from major manufacturers for the second consecutive year
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2007 March 14 - 20 [LABOR]

Unions in Spring Struggle obtain wage raise from major manufacturers for the second consecutive year

March 15, 2007
Japan’s major manufacturers, including automakers and electronics companies, on March 14 simultaneously offered wage increases to workers’ unions affiliated with the Japan Council of Metal Workers’ Unions (IMF-JC) in the 2007 spring wage struggle. Pay increases were offered for the second consecutive year, though the amount fell far short of the union demands.

The IMF-JC is made up of five organizations of industrial workers’ unions, including the Japanese Electrical Electronic & Information Union (JEIU) and the Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers’ Union, all affiliated to the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo).

The Toyota Motor Workers’ Union demanded a wage increase of 1,500 yen a month, but Toyota Motor Corp. offered only a 1,000 yen increase. Honda Motor Co. offered 900 yen, 100 yen less than demanded by its union.

Twelve major electronics corporations, on the other hand, offered a pay raise of 1,000 yen to their workers’ unions which demanded a uniform increase of 2,000 yen. Those companies include Matsushita Electric Industry Co., Toshiba Corp., Fujitsu Ltd., NEC, and Sharp Corp.

The JEIU and major electronics corporations also agreed that the minimum monthly wage applicable to the industry will be increased by 1,000 yen, bringing about the hourly minimum wage of 970 yen.

With respect to the Rengo-affiliated Japanese Association of Metal, Machinery, and Manufacturing Workers (JAM) which consists mainly of workers’ unions of medium- and small-sized makers, a workers’ union at Yanmar Co. won an increase by eight yen to 960 yen in their minimum hourly wage.

This year’s spring wage hike struggle is fought in a situation in which wages have decreased for eight consecutive years, contributing to the growing poverty and social disparities which have become a major social problem, while major corporations are expected to achieve growth in earnings for five straight years.

Given the fact that major corporations are increasing their earnings, workers’ unions are demanding wage increases, and attaching importance especially to monthly pay increases which have a ripple effect on wages of workers of small- and medium-sized enterprises and part-time workers.

However, the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) refuses to meet workers’ demands, arguing, “The priority should be given to strengthening corporate international competitiveness,” adding, “It is appropriate to apply increased corporate earnings to workers with the use of one-time bonuses.”

Despite its expected operating profit of nearly 2 trillion yen, Toyota offered only 1,000 yen, the same as last year. A 50-year-old Toyota worker said, “Toyota is making profits enough to fully meet workers’ demands. The management says that it is impossible to raise wages for Toyota workers alone, since subcontract unit prices have been slashed. But the acceptable logic is that the company increases unit prices so that subcontractors can in turn increase their employers’ wages.”

Excessive intensification of labor, curbs on wage increases, and the sacrificing of subcontractors or small- and medium-sized companies have brought in record profits for major corporations. Therefore, a larger part of their profits needs to be redistributed to the society at large.
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