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HOME  > Past issues  > 2023 January 25 - 31  > 2023 spring wage offensive seeks to win substantial wage hikes to cope with inflation
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2023 January 25 - 31 [LABOR]

2023 spring wage offensive seeks to win substantial wage hikes to cope with inflation

January 29, 2023

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Under a situation where the ongoing price surge is delivering a heavy blow to household finance which was already hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2023 labor-management talks focusing on wages, known as the People’s Spring Struggle (“shunto”), has begun. In order to protect people’s livelihoods, the need is to win substantial wage hikes exceeding the rate of inflation in this year’s “shunto” wage talks.

The December 2022 national consumer price index showed a 4% rise on a year-on-year basis, hitting a new 41-year high. On the other hand, real wages decreased for eight months in a row.

This situation has been caused not only by external influences such as the global inflation surge, but also by internal ones. In Japan, workers have experienced a wage decline for a quarter of a century due to the business circles’ wage restraint policy and the increase in the use of non-regular workers due to repeated labor deregulation. Japan is ranked 24th among 34 OECD nations in terms of the average wage.

The imposition of the wage restraint policy under the pretext of maintaining international competitiveness brought about a slump in domestic demand. This triggered the hollowing-out of domestic industries and the further promotion of corporate restructuring. Japan, a nation of stagnant wage growth, became a nation with no economic growth.

The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) and the People’s Spring Struggle Joint Committee in this year’s wage offensive seek to win a monthly wage hike of more than 30,000 yen and an hourly wage increase of over 190 yen in order to ensure that all workers regardless of the industry sector they work in can earn at least 225,000 yen a month and a minimum hourly wage of 1,500 yen. They also call for the eradication of inequalities between men and women as well as between regular and non-regular workers, in addition to the establishment of equal treatment in employment.

The amount of internal reserves which large corporations amassed thanks to the cuts in corporate taxes and a sluggish wage growth surpassed 500 trillion yen. A portion of this huge amount of internal reserves should be used to realize wage increases.

It is a political responsibility to levy a tax on large corporations’ internal reserves to carry out a policy which will encourage both large and smaller companies to offer higher wages.

In Europe, for example in the U.K. and Germany, union activists have gone on strike to win wage hikes. In the U.S., young workers have stood up for better working conditions as evidenced in the organization of a union at Amazon. It is necessary for Japanese workers to learn from other countries’ workers and fight for better pay.

Past related article:
> Zenroren calls for winning substantial wage hikes through strikes [January 21, 2023]
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