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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 March 12 - 18  > Large corporations are greedy
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2008 March 12 - 18 [LABOR]

Large corporations are greedy

March 13, 2008
Japan’s major manufacturers, including automakers, electronics makers, and steelmakers, on March 12 simultaneously offered wage increases to their unions in the 2008 spring wage struggle. Thy are offering raises for the third straight year, but the amounts are as low as the previous year, making workers angry. Many say, “Large corporations are too greedy to give us a fare share.”

Even Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s top automaker that has reported record-breaking profits, offered a pay raise of no more than 1,000 yen per month, as it did the previous year, in complete disregard of the union’s demand of a 1,500-yen increase.

Honda Motor Co. offered just an 800-yen increase although its union had demanded 1,000 yen.

In the electronics sector, 12 companies including Toshiba Corp, Hitachi Ltd., and NEC Corp. offered a 1,000 yen monthly increase, the same level as the previous year to an industry-wide union demand for a raise of 2,000 yen in the basic monthly salaries.

In this year’s annual spring wage struggle, the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) for the first time spoke of the need to expand domestic demand, and even Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo asked the business federation to offer a meaningful pay raise. This shows that raising wages is a national task.

Large companies, however, have refused to meet union demands on the grounds that they are forced to deal with the price rise of raw materials as well as the strong yen relative to other hard currencies.

Employers have also rejected the union demand for higher overtime rates.

In the metal industry, the Japan Council of Metal Workers’ Unions (IMF-JC) has led in the struggle for wage increases for the third consecutive years and overtime pay rate increase for the first time in 15 years.

The Japanese Electrical, Electronic and Information Unions (JEIU) won a 1,000 yen per month increase in the industrial minimum wage. This will help to increase contingent workers’ wages.

By forcing excessively heavy workloads and low wages on workers and pushing subcontractors to shoulder a heavier burden of costs, large corporations are able to make extraordinary profits.

Returning a part of large corporations’ huge profits to workers as well as subcontractors is the first step to eradicating poverty and to changing the Japanese economy into one driven primarily by a healthy domestic demand. The task is for both the business circles and large corporations to fulfill their social corporate responsibility.

Basic wage increases for workers at small- and medium-sized enterprises and a minimum wage increase for part-time workers will be offered soon.

At a time when the poverty rate is increasing, trade unions should wage their movement in cooperation with other social movements in order to ensure the minimum standards of living for all people.
- Akahata, March 13, 2008
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