2010 Spring Struggle ―March 18 Nationwide Day of Action
210,000 workers walk out throughout Japan and take part in ‘Day of National Concerted Action on March 18’
The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) and the People’s Spring Struggle National Joint Committee had a nationwide concerted day of action on March 18 in protest against inadequate wage offers major companies made the previous day in response to union demands.
Many companies have offered an “annual pay raise and no basic wage increase,” or a “wage freeze.” Denouncing employers for completely disregarding workers’ desperate need to improve their livelihoods, 210,000 workers of 20 private and public sector federations went on strike, held workplace meetings, and took to the streets in all of the nation’s 47 prefectures.
427 Tsushinroso workers go on strike at 162 offices throughout Japan
The Telecommunication Industry Workers’ Unions (Tsushinroso) called a strike on April 18 in 35 prefectures in protest against Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT Group)’s zero wage increase offer. The strike took place from the start of business hour to 10:00 a.m. with 27 workers participating at 162 offices.
It was very cold in the early morning in Tokyo. About 100 telecom workers and their supporters assembled at the office of the NTT holding company in the Otemachi business district and held a rally at the start of the strike.
Speaking on behalf of the organizers, Tsushinroso President YAMADA Shinobu said: “Tsushinroso has consistently demanded that NTT use a part of its internal reserves to increase wages. This call has become the major theme of our struggle.” He criticized the largest telecom company for rejecting the call for wage increase and replacing more regular full-time workers with temporary workers at NTT group company in Hokkaido, even though it has annually amassed 757 billion yen in internal reserves. NTT has so far amassed a total of 9.6 trillion yen in internal reserves.
Zenroren Vice President IKUMA Shigemi in a speech expressed solidarity with the striking workers. Citing newspaper reports, he said, “They (the company union) are saying they are trying to at least ensure that workers get an annual pay raise. However, this is nothing special because it is just a duty they have to fulfill under the company regulations. Unions that forgo demanding a basic wage increase are failing to perform the role as unions.”
Referring to the bill which the ruling parties are planning to introduce to the Diet to revise the Worker Dispatch Law, Ikuma said that the popular movement exerted power to drop the provision allowing companies to interview temporary workers before they are sent there from staffing agencies. However, he also criticized the bill for failing to ban manufacturers from using temporary workers and on-call workers.
Pointing out that large companies have justified their huge amounts of internal reserves as something necessary to be used in the event of an emergency, he said, “Workers are in an emergency and are calling for internal reserves to be used for better pay. Let us do all we can to force companies to use a part of internal reserves and stop irresponsible corporate restructuring.”
A participant from the Tokyo Regional Council of Trade Unions said, “Major company unions are demanding only annual wage increase. They are not demanding a basic pay increase. This shows that they are not trying to represent workers’ demands. We will do all we can to win a wage increase and expansion of domestic demand.”
An All Japan Construction, Transport and General Unions (Kenkoro) worker said, “Small- and medium-sized constructors do not receive orders nowadays. In the present Japanese economy, they are facing an unusual system making it very difficult for them to collect funds. There is no effective way but to increase wages.”
An All-Japan Federation of Teachers’ and Staff Unions (Zenkyo) member said, “A survey by teachers in charge of health education at schools shows there are parents who are unable even to take their children to a dental office for the treatment of cavity. The urgent need now is to win a fundamental revision of the Worker Dispatch Law to ensure stable employment for every parent and a substantial minimum wage increase.”
A participant from the National Federation of Finance Workers’ Unions (Kin’yu-roren) said, “We have had the Diet take up the problem of financial institutions forcing their contract workers to pursue sales of high-risk financial products and refusing to renew contracts with workers who were unable to fulfill what they had been told to achieve. This effort forced the employers to improve their labor practices.”
Several participants referred to the current status of their wage talks and expressed determination to win their demands.
At the end of the rally, all participants chanted their demands: “Use a part of internal reserves to increase wages!” and “Stop forcing workers to retire at the age of 50 and rehiring them as contract workers!”
Postal workers go on strike demanding regular full-time jobs and improvement in living and working conditions
The Postal Industry Workers’ Union (Yusanro) and the Postal Services Workers’ Union (Yusei Union) joined forces as they went on strike at 31 offices throughout the country demanding that Japan Post promote contingent workers to regular full-time positions and put into practice the principle of equal treatment for workers of all categories.
The two unions began their walkouts by holding a rally in front of the head office of Japan Post in the Kasumigaseki government office district of Tokyo, attended by about 200 union members as well as supporters from other unions. Yusanro President YAMAZAKI Kiyoshi and Yusei Union President SUDO Kazuhiro spoke on behalf of the organizers.
Yamazaki said Yusanro workers are on strike at 17 places of work at 10 key offices. Pointing out that Japan Post has made no significant offer to Yusanro and Yusei Union negotiators in five rounds of wage talks, he said, “We are demanding that the company has the responsibility to show the concrete way to give regular full-time positions to 121,000 workers who are working on contracts to be renewed every three years. The company also must respond in concrete terms to the demand for their equal treatment.” He concluded his speech by expressing determination to make every effort to protect postal workers’ living and working conditions and get the postal services reviewed in the public interest.”
Zenroren President DAIKOKU Sakuji in his speech said, “This year’s Spring Struggle, which is focusing on the demand for wage increase and improved minimum wage as well as expansion of domestic demand, is reaching the climax. Let us press harder large corporations to fulfill their social responsibility. Let us get the Diet promise to have Japan Post offer contract workers regular full-time positions.”
Four people representing their respective union branches at key postal services offices expressed their determination.
FUJITA Takafumi from the Yusanro Ginza branch said, “In December last year, a Yusanro member fell off and died at work. The Japan Post branch office refuses to acknowledge that the office operator is responsible for workers’ safety and health. In the Spring Struggle we will continue to fight for workplaces to gives priority to the well being of workers, using today’s strike struggle as the springboard.”
The central struggle committee consisting of Yusanro and Yusei unions approved the “Declaration of Strike”, followed by participants’ chants: “We will win a significant wage increase and regular full-time jobs for contingent workers as well as equal treatment of all workers! We will fight to achieve an overhaul of the privatized postal services! We are on concerted strike in solidarity with all postal workers throughout the country!”