Interim review of 2010 Spring Struggle
The People's Spring Struggle Joint Committee held a meeting of federation representatives. The committee is made up of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) and a group of unions which have no national affiliation. Participants shared experiences and lessons they gained in the Spring Struggle, which was waged in a very difficult situation.
In the opening speech, DAIKOKU Sakuji, Zenroren president, said that major Rengo federations this year gave up their demand for increases in basic wages, adding that Rengo unions only aimed to maintain the regular wage increase. He stressed that the many unions had to wage the Spring Struggle amid a situation in which large corporations’ recovery would not have the trickle-down effect. Referring to the new government led by Prime Minister KAN Naoto, established after the collapse of HATOYAMA Yukio's government, Daikoku strongly criticized it for moving toward forming a grand coalition with LDP forces with the aim of raising the consumption tax rate without resolving the issue of money politics scandals and betraying its public promise concerning the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station. He called for a major effort to achieve a political change away from subservience to the United States and from the rule of financial circles as part of our summer campaign.
Secretary-general ODAGAWA Yoshikazu, who is also Zenroren secretary general, proposed the draft of the interim review of the 2010 Spring Struggle. He said that in this year’s Spring Struggle, the first since the change of government, unions worked hard to make the campaign visible and audible in workplaces as well as local communities.
Although the average wage increase remained unchanged from last year, when it fell considerably from the previous year, Odagawa noted that more than 52 percent of unions in the joint committee won larger increase as compared to the last year’s result. He also emphasized that 435 unions (15 percent) went on strike, including the All-Japan Federation of Automobile Transport Workers’ Unions (JIKO-SOREN), which authorized a national strike for the first time in 11 years. Last year the number of unions that went on strike was 335, which accounted for 10 percent of unions in the joint committee. Eighty out of these unions, including the Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions (NIHON-IROREN), won a basic wage increase.
With campaigning for the House of Councilors starting the following day, Odagawa called on participants to combine the important tasks in the struggle in summer and autumn: the revision of the Worker Dispatch Law, the substantial minimum wage increase, a wage increase for government and public service employees, the abolition of the discriminatory health insurance system for the elderly aged 75 and older, and the abolition of nuclear weapons.
Unions must call for wage increase
Secretary General Odagawa’s report was followed by a discussion by delegates of federations and unions.
A National Federation of Agricultural Mutual Aid Societies Employees' Unions (Zennokyo roren) representative spoke about the impact of spreading foot-and-mouth disease in Miyazaki Prefecture. He said that not only livestock farmers but also related business owners are hard hit and that employees are being forced out of work. He also said that unions and democratic organizations forming a network to support livestock farmers are welcomed by the head of the local agriculture cooperative union.
A representative of the General Federation of Cinema and Theatrical Workers' Unions of Japan（EIENSOREN）spoke about a workplace meeting, in which a woman member’s remark that she cannot get married as long as her salary remains that low pushed the union leadership into forcing the company to accept the wage increase demand after three rounds of negotiations. He emphasized the importance of turning workers’ anger into energy shared by all in the struggle instead of imposing the specific demand on workers from above.
An All-Japan Federation of Automobile Transport Workers’ Unions (JIKO-SOREN) worker said that Tokyo is taking the lead in reducing the total number of taxis adding that the need now is to increase the movement to not re verse the trend of strengthening regulation.
An All Japan Construction, Transport and General Unions (CTG, KENKORO) worker stressed the importance of developing a social movement to impose economic regulation on large corporations because labor talks at each company cannot do it.
A Japan Federation of Prefectural and Municipal Workers’ Unions (JICHIROREN) representative said that public library workers in Chuo Ward in Tokyo won a wage increase of 28,000 yen per month and that this was a result of negotiations in which the union demanded a wage increase emphasizing that the workers are doing professional work.
A participant from Chiba Prefecture said that a municipality’s officials gave their signatures in support of the abolition of nuclear weapons in response to the union’s campaign.