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Nippon Keidanren persists in defending its egotistic demand

Zenroren on January 19 published the following statement by its secretary-general, ODAGAWA Yoshikazu, in protest against annual ‘Position Paper on Management and Labor Policy’.

The Committee on Management and Labor Policy of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) published the “2011 Position Paper on Management and Labor Policy”. It details its arguments on behalf of Japan’s financial circles, regarding how it will deal with labor’s demands in the Spring Struggle.

The keynote of the report is well expressed by its subtitle: “Management and labor work together to win the global competition.” It pays no attention to the many Japanese workers who are forced to endure the widening economic inequalities and increasing poverty and to the small- and medium-sized business operators who are facing a financial crisis due to the lingering effect of the economic crisis that began in 2008.

The position paper flatly rejects even the modest demand for a basic pay raise and improvements in the treatment of contingent workers on the grounds that the need now is for a handful of large corporations, which are operating more globally as multinational firms, to maximize profits by increasing international competitiveness. It calls on workers not to demand more than the annual pay raise. It also urges contingent workers to take up the same jobs as full-time regular workers.

Japan's large corporations have achieved v-shaped recovery, partly helped by the government subsidies for the purchase of eco-friendly vehicles and partly by unilaterally terminating contracts with contingent workers and bullying subcontractors. They have amassed more than 200 trillion yen in cash in excess. With the large corporations unable to stop accumulating enormous capital in excess and failing to fulfill their social responsibility, it is impossible to overcome the adverse effects of the economic crisis.

We strongly protest the position paper's selfishness.

The position paper says that business activities are the driving force of Japan's economic growth. It refers to employee and other stakeholders, but it in essence represents a self-centered position that does not take note of the fact that activities of large corporations are made possible by workers, small- and medium-sized companies, and the government's efforts to improve infrastructure.

The position paper touches upon the critical economic and employment situations but stops short of examining the cause of the crisis. Its call for amending the Worker Dispatch Law is very inadequate. It is thus trying to check discussion on ways to strengthen fixed-term contracts, arguing for a “job market rich in diversity” to enhance job mobility. The position paper does not have remorse for the layoff of contingent workers before the expiry of contracts. It shows no enthusiasm for making the job market stable.

The position paper makes arguments that might lead to scrapping the agreement between the government, labor and employers regarding minimum wage increase, putting forward peculiar “equal pay for equal work” theory that contains personnel management reflecting corporate arbitrariness. As for the difference in the treatment between contingent workers and full-time regular workers, the position paper only regard it as an object of its explanation.

Contrary to its argument in favor of globalization, the position paper completely disregards what other industrialized countries are doing.

Also on full-time regular workers’ automatic wage increase and the determining factor of wages, the position paper only calls for their “review” as the way to hold down labor cost as much as possible. Regarding the promotion of the employment of people with disability and senior people, it insists that individual businesses’ financial positions should be taken into account above anything else. It uses this argument to reject workers’ justifiable demands for stable livelihoods and jobs, by putting immediate profits first. This is how the position paper throws off corporate social responsibility.

We must not allow companies to implement what the position paper suggests. The government must not allow large corporations to continue to make selfish arguments. It must not allow companies to follow policies that make it easier to deregulate worker protection provisions or follow an employment policy that takes into account corporate financial positions more than anything else. How deceptive it is for companies to emphasize the need to bring up personnel without taking steps to solve the problem of unstable jobs!

Aware of all this, we will help increase workers’ struggle to expose the deceptiveness of the position paper and work to help increase workers’ criticism of the Keidanren position. Zenroren is determined to help unions in the local communities and workplaces.

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