January 19 Day of Action Launching Declaration on Spring Struggle
The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) joined with the National Joint Spring Struggle Committee and the Tokyo Joint Struggle for Spring Struggle on January 19 to hold a day of action to mark the launching of a declaration on the 2010 Spring Struggle.
Amid the employment situation continuing to deteriorate, the major slogan they put up for the action was “Give us stable and quality jobs”. They demanded that the government budget for fiscal 2010 (April 2010-March 2011) put the urgent needs of the working people first, that the Worker Dispatch Law be fundamentally revised to secure basic rights for temporary workers, and that the minimum wage be raised to 1,000 yen nationwide. At the same time, while urging the financial circles and large corporations to fulfill their social responsibility, they called for the economy to be restructured into one that will be driven by wage increases and job creation.
After taking their demands to the Labor Ministry, they held a march in demonstration organized during the lunch hours through the Marunouchi business district and converged on the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) headquarters. A total of 1,300 people participated in these actions.
Shiseido Infini union leader makes appeal at Nippon Keidanren
The Shiseido Infini union is a Zenroren-affiliated National Union of General Workers (Zenroren-Zenkoku-ippan). Its leader says:
“I have worked at the Shiseido Kamakura factory making lip sticks for nine years. I have worked as a temporary worker or as an independent contractor, but have been assigned to the same job. I worked hard and was proud of Shiseido brand products. I became a leader of the workshop and taught younger workers on the job. However, due to my status as a temporary worker, the employer fired me at the company’s convenience. Shiseido is capable of providing quality products because of our hard work. Shiseido has given its shareholders 20 billion yen in dividends while using throw-away workers. The employer says a tighter labor regulation will lead to the loss of job availability for those who need the diversity of employment. But we believe it is unjust for employers to be able to dismiss workers so easily. We want to live a normal family life. We want to continue to keep pride at work.
Declaration of 2010 Spring Struggle
This year’s Spring Struggle, which is the twentieth since the founding of the Joint National Spring Struggle Committee, is going into full swing.
The economic crisis that began in the autumn of 2008 had a global impact. In Japan, the economy had been more dependent on exports, and labor law protection of workers has been eased a lot, leading to the emergence of a temporary “tent city” in Tokyo for those who lost their jobs and places to live. This serious situation has not been improved. In late 2009, more than 800 people, more than the previous year, sought to take shelter at the temporary accommodation prepared by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
The unemployment rate in November in Japan stood at 5.2 percent, the highest ever. The number of people out of work reached 3.3 million, up 750 thousand from a year earlier. Not only contingent workers but full-time workers are being dismissed. The number of working poor, who earn less than two million yen a year, has been more than 10 million for three successive year.
Meanwhile, even in the midst of the economic crisis, large corporations have been able to double their “internal reserves” in the past ten years to 428 trillion yen. Such a huge savings of net profits under the current economic recession has been made possible by wage cuts, which in turn has discouraged people from spending money, shrunk domestic demand, and put the nation’s economy in the deepest ever recession.
The Liberal Democratic-Komei party government pushed ahead with the “structural reform” policy under the name of “neoliberalism”, helping the rich and bullying the disadvantaged. But last year, it was forced out of power as the result of the House of Representatives general election and was replaced by a Democratic Party-led coalition government. The new coalition government led by Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio has been implementing some positive policies for the benefit of the public by restoring payments of additional benefits for woman-headed single parent families on welfare, introducing child allowances, and making high school education tuition-free. But at the same time, the government has decided to defer the abolition of the heath insurance system discriminating against the elderly aged 75 and over. It is reluctant to overhaul the Worker Dispatch Law and to introduce a uniform national minimum wage system. It is in disarray over the issue of “relocating” the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station. All this has forced many people to back away from supporting the Hatoyama Cabinet.
This year's Spring Struggle is facing a critical choice: either it will accept an economy led by large corporation, or it will call for a path to achieve economic recovery through boosting domestic demand by encouraging people to spend money.
The Joint Spring Struggle Committee's main slogan is: “We seize chances by using changes now underway, to end poverty and economic inequalities, and to expand domestic demand.” We make this slogan visible and heard by the public.”
We put up a unified demand for a pay raise for every worker, by at least 10,000 yen a month and 100 yen per hour. We demand that large corporations use a part of their internal reserves to create jobs and pay workers more. We demand that the government take steps forward toward fundamentally revising the Worker Dispatch Law as part of the effort to improve the “rules of employment”, establish a national minimum wage at 1,000 yen, and improve the social programs. In order to make progress in the movement for jobs, we will increase cooperation with small- and medium-sized business owners while developing the struggle from the grassroots level at places of work and communities.
This is the first Spring Struggle to be waged under the new government. We call on all workers to do all they can to make this major struggle a turning point for Japanese society in the 21st century.
January 19, 2010
National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
Joint People's Spring Struggle Committee