(08-11-2010) People’s Spring Struggle 2011 News 1
Joint People’s Spring Struggle Committee holds its annual general assembly
The Joint People’ Spring Struggle Committee held its annual general assembly on October 27 in Tokyo to adopt the 2011 Spring Struggle Plan focusing on the fight to win economic recovery through wage increase and expansion of domestic demand.
The assembly was attended by 68 people representing 21 federations and five local joint struggle committees.
The Joint Committee consists of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), the Conference of Independent Labor Unions and local joint struggle committees.
Zenroren President DAIKOKU Sakuji gave the opening speech on behalf of the Executive Board of the Joint Committee (See separate item). He criticized Prime Minister KAN Naoto’s cabinet for changing its stance from one of “people first” to one of promoting large public works projects and called for a truly effective revision to the Worker Dispatch Law to be enacted in the current session of the Diet. He also referred to the sharp rise in the value of the yen and emphasized that “this negative spiral will know no bound unless government policy is shifted to a policy of giving priority to taking measures to boost domestic demand. He pointed out that the average annual salary in the private sector decreased 237 thousand yen in 2009 and the gross pay dropped 30 trillion yen and expressed determination to win a wage increase for all workers.
Secretary General of the Joint Committee ODAGAWA Yoshikazu (Zenroren secretary general) proposed a plan for the 2011 Spring Struggle. The plan puts forward the following main items on the agenda:
- Wage increase for all workers and job security;
- Shorter working hours and better working conditions making it possible for workers to continue to work;
- Efforts to establish national minimum standards in conjunction with the struggle for minimum wage increase and the movement to require companies on government/public contracts;
- Protection of jobs and job creation; and
- Institutional improvements through stable employment and better social services.
He also called for the Spring Struggle to become visible and audible.
Fifteen participants spoke during the meeting.
A representative of the All-Japan Metal and Information Machinery Workers’ Unions (JMIU) expressed determination to make the 2011 Spring Struggle mark the first year for the revitalization of the Spring Struggle. He said that the fight to win a wage increase should be the key issue and called for a unified cross-company struggle to take the offensive in pushing ahead with collective bargaining. He added that an advance in the Spring Struggle is essential for the fight to eradicate poverty and income disparities and that the Spring Struggle is also a chance for workers themselves to grow.
A representative of the National Federation of Consumers’ Cooperatives Workers’ Unions (Seikyororen) stressed the importance of demanding a wage increase for all workers, including part-time workers, particularly by sticking to a basic pay raise even when enterprises are in a difficult financial position, adding that the demand for an hourly wage of more than 1,000 yen should be confirmed as a common key demand of all members of the workplace, so that they can force the employers to work out ways to realize the demand.
A representative of the All Japan Construction, Transport and General Workers’ Union called for a major joint effort to build national unity to pave the way for prospects for achieving workers’ demand, saying the business leaders and the government are worried about the public’s opinion and the popular movement.
A representative of the General Confederation of Cinema and Theatrical Workers’ Unions (Eien-soren) pointed out that the Spring Struggle is viewed differently by the existing unions that organize mainly full-tile regular workers and individual membership free unions. “Participants in individual-membership unions are seeking not only to take part in labor disputes. We will start from the basics of taking up their demands.”
A representative of the Saitama Joint Committee called for an effort to find ways to defeat attacks from the government and the business sector attempting to divide and rule the workers. He emphasized that workers who are members of federations should take up the needs of the unorganized in their movement, adding that they should reach out to local communities to work with them.
In summing up the discussion, Odagawa said, “We must begin with putting up workers’ demand it we are to rebuild the Spring Struggle structure. We must overcome the present situation in which less than 70 percent of unions have submitted their demands. He also said opinions expressed in this meeting will be reflected in the action plan to be elaborated during the November meeting on the Spring Struggle.
The president of the Japan Federation of Aviation Workers’ Unions, CHIKAMURA Kazuya, attended the general assembly. He said Japan Airlines has given him an empty work schedule, which suggests that he is one of the employees who are urged by the company to quit. He asked the Joint Spring Struggle Committee to extend solidarity and cooperation with them in the struggle to block forced retirement at JAL, an ailing airline which is in the process of rebuilding itself.
The general assembly adopted a unanimous special resolution “Let us fight in solidarity with JAL workers to defend jobs, human rights and the public’s safety.”