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December 19, 2006
Zenroren criticizes Nippon Keidanren for continuing with the path of further widening income in complete disregard of corporate social responsibility

In a published statement on December 19, ODAGAWA Yosikazu, secretary general of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), slammed the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) for pursuing a policy that would further widen the income gap between rich and poor.

The gPosition Paper 2007 on Management and Human Resourcesh compiled by Nippon Keidanrenfs Committee on Management and Labor Policy was released on the same day.

The following is the full text of the Odagawa statement:

The Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) today published its annual gPosition Paper on Management and Human Resources.h It completely ignores workersf suffering and anger as well as the harsh working conditions forced on the workers. In order to ensure that large corporations can further increase profit and economic growth, the gPosition Paperh says that employersf should be allowed to gflexibly respondh to workersf demands for job creation, improvement of working conditions and pay increases. It calls for employers to determine wages for each individual worker according to their job performance. Nippon Keidanrenfs position is one of drawing more cooperation from the government and forcing labor to make further concessions.

Zenroren protests about Nippon Keidanren continuing to issue a gposition paperh that will further undermine social stability by widening the income gap and increase the working poor, mainly among young people without regard for the business circlesf influence on and responsibility for the well-being of workers and the general public.

The call for gnew styles of work to be promoted as part of innovationh is what the gPosition Paperh is all about. It is set forth as the sub-title of the gPosition Paperh in a more self-righteous way than the last yearfs gEmployers, Be Righteous and Strongh.

In carrying out his gstructural reformh policy, former Prime Minister KOIZUMI Junichiro pushed ahead with neo-liberal policies based on the concept that the market forces are panacea. As a result of the promotion of law of the jungle, our society has become even more polarized between gwinnersh and glosersh in the widening gap between rich and poor, adding to the uncertainty among the public. The large corporations do not stop there. In addition to the wider use of temporary workers, they are repeatedly breaking laws by using temporary workers disguised as job contractors and by forcing workers to work overtime without pay. These irregularities have made it possible for the large corporations to amass record profits.

Questioned about the allegation that the use of temporary workers in the guise of job contractors is illegal, Nippon Keidanren Chairman MITARAI Fujio said, gThe law regulating the use of job contractors is too rigid,h thus putting the interest of big business before law. If Nippon Keidanren calls for ginnovationh, he should first express corporate managementfs willingness to accept gcorporate social responsibilityh that meets the work rules that comply with the international norms.

The gPosition Paperh says that its proposals are aimed at making Japan a gcountry of hope.h But actually, it is calling for restraining wage increases and a review of the retirement benefits and corporate pension systems, while insisting that the regular wage increase system should be abolished. Thus, corporate management is even trying to get rid of workersf minimum hope.

While stating that gJapanfs economy has been on a recovery track since early 2002,h it continues to reject calls for increased wealth distribution to workers on the grounds that there is no room for giving a base pay raise because of the need to survive international competition.

Concerning the treatment of contingent workers, such as part timers, contract employees, temps, and job contractors, the position paper turns its back on the call for their equal treatment on the grounds that there can be various ways of manpower use under the pretext of work style gdiversityh. It says that such a switch should be done in conformity with workersf gcompetence and abilityh as well as according to each companyfs conditions. It opposes any legal measures requiring employers to employ contingent workers as fulltime workers. In addition, it goes so far as to demand the abolition of the law requiring employers to offer fulltime jobs to temporary workers after a certain period. This means that it will be very difficult for those who lost fulltime jobs and taken up temporary jobs to seek to become a fulltime again.

On the minimum wage system, instead of referring to the fact that the amounts of the existing minimum wag are very low, it demands that the industrial minimum wages should be abolished on the grounds that the safety net is provided by the local minimum wage system. They are reluctant to deal with difficulties that the working poor are experiencing.

The position paper strongly calls for a gwhite-collar exemptionh to be introduced in Japan. Calling for its wider application, it proposes easing the income provision for gwhite-collar exemption.h If it becomes law, it will only increase karoshi, or death from overwork, because it will be used to force workers to do indefinite amounts of workload.

The position paper states that the economic gap among people is a natural outcome of fair market competition. This view is tantamount to urging workers to choose between a non-fulltime job that pays them wages lower than poverty line and a fulltime job that forces them to be prepared for the risk of karoshi. This has nothing in common with gfair competition.h

Another point which we cannot overlook in the gPosition Paperh is that it is calling for adverse reforms of the social services -pensions, medical services, and nursing care services- while demanding that corporate tax burden be reduced. Thus, Nippon Keidanren is asking the government to help large corporations secure profits while asking workers and the general public to increase their self-help instead of relying on public assistance. This contradictory approach will further discourage people from spending money. This will not only go against economic recovery but undermine the stability of Japanese society.

Zenroren will do all it can to oppose the implementation of the Nippon Keidanren gPosition Paperh which is the business circlesf basic policy for dealing with laborfs 2007 Spring Struggle.

Widening income gaps among the various strata of the working people are very serious today. We demand that these gaps be narrowed and that poverty eradicated, while working hard to establish and improve work-related regulations at places of work as well as regional communities.

Emphasizing the importance of raising the level of pay, we demand (1) a pay-raise of at least 10,000 yen a month for every worker, (2) an hourly pay-raise of at least 1,000 yen for every worker, and (3) minimum wages at 150,000 yen a month, 7,400 yen a day, or 1,000 yen per hour.

We will launch a nationwide campaign to submit the unified gZenroren Demandh to all employers and take workersf demands to local governments. We will also call on the public, in particular on young people, including contingent workers, to join forces to raise the minimum wage and starting pay, and win equal treatment of non-fulltime workers and job creation. We are determined to increase cooperation between labor and the general public in the struggle to put an end to the tyrannical rule of business circles and large corporations.


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