2011 Spring Struggle
March 3: Day of action for jobs and wage increase
About 3,000 people from industrial and regional federations on March 3 took part in a Day of Central Action calling for wage increase to help in economic recovery and for the government and large corporations to fulfill their responsibility to secure jobs. The action was called for jointly by the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), the National Joint People’s Spring Struggle Committee and the Tokyo Committee with the aim of putting pressure on the major industries, which were to make wage offers to unions on March 16.
Participants during lunch break converged on the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry (HLWM), the National Personnel Authority (NPA) and the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry. Throughout the day, they held a rally, took to the streets near railway stations, visited lawmakers, and marched in demonstration through the upscale Ginza business district calling for putting an end to the economic recession by increasing consumers’ ability to spend.
At HLWM and NPA
Workers demand the government do its part to secure jobs
At noon, 1,800 people assembled in front of the HLWM and the NPA. There emerged a forest of union flags on both sides of the street.
DAIKOKU Sakuji, president of Zenroren, spoke on behalf of the National Joint People’s Spring Struggle Committee. He stressed that large corporations have amassed 244 trillion yen (about 3 trillion dollars) in internal reserves, which are not used to help improve people’s livelihoods, and that the need now is to achieve economy recovery by winning wage increases and to boost domestic demand.
Secretary general of the national joint committee, ODAGAWA Yoshikazu, gave the report on the present situation in which unions are waging the Spring Struggle. He criticized the large corporations for continuing to cut wages and jobs ostensibly to boost their international competitiveness, only to force more workers out of work, create a vicious circle of deflation, which in turn increases the poverty rate and widens income inequalities. “We will stick with the Spring Struggle slogans to put all our energy in the struggle to win wage increases and secure jobs for all workers,” he said.
Several participants expressed their determination.
Vice Chairman ISHIGAKI Atsushi of the All-Japan Federation of Automobile Transport Workers’ Unions (Jiko-soren) denounced extremely low wages for taxi drivers, which are in violation of the minimum wage and below the level of livelihood assistance benefits. He said, “We will continue to fight to win a substantial reduction in the number of taxis and establish the basic workplace rights.”
Vice Chairperson KINOSHITA Yuriko of the National Federation of Consumers’ Cooperatives Workers’ Unions (Seikyororen) said that a national survey on the minimum cost of living by region shows that a worker needs to be paid at least 1,300 yen per hour regardless of region. “We need at least 1,000 yen per hour. We cannot wait until 2020, as agreed upon by the government, labor and employers,” she said.
SHIMIZU Akiko, a nurse and member of the Tokyo Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions (Tokyo Iroren) exposed the prevalence of long hour work imposed on hospital nurses due to weak regulation of night work. She said that they are forced to work 16 or 17 hours a day and that some night shift nurses have died from overwork. Stressing, “Medical services can’t be safe without occupational safety secured for medical workers,” she said her union will continue to press the government to improve social security services.
ADACHI Hiroshi, who heads the truckers’ panel in the All Japan Construction, Transport and General Unions (CGT, Kenkoro), said that 90 percent of Japan’s freight services depend on trucking, but that the number of trucks in service has increased to 60,000 from 40,000 since the beginning of the 1990s, that the free pricing system, which coupled with soaring fuel prices, sharply held down workers’ wages. He said trucking industry workers are determined to fight for improvement in the price system in the freight services and for wage increases.
On behalf of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the dismissal of Japan Airlines workers, MORIMOTO Norifumi spoke in solidarity with the Action participants. Referring to the lessons from correct judgment of an experienced pilot in his 50s and other members of the crew that saved all passengers in what was praised as the “Miracle on the Hudson River,” he said, “JAL no longer has experienced and skilled workers like him. I am determined to win reinstatement to the workplace I used to work in order to help ensure airline safety.”
Several workers representing public sector federations took the microphone on the campaign car in front of the NPA.
UEDA Soichi, a member of the Central Executive Committee of the Japan Federation of National Public Service Employees’ Unions (Kokko-roren), said, “The NPA must clearly express its disagreement with the government policy of cutting wages. We will continue to fight until we win the revocation of the dismissals of former Social Insurance Agency workers.”
Deputy Secretary TAKAMATSU Eisyo of the Kyoto Federation of Prefectural and Municipal Workers’ Unions said, “We will not tolerate policies that would thwart local government workers’ wish to work to serve residents’ interest. We will also fight to stop the unjustifiable wage cuts.”
KUDO Yoshihiro, the secretary general of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teachers’ Union, said, “We are waging this year’s Spring Struggle by linking it to the campaign to win in the upcoming Tokyo’s gubernatorial election.
House of Representatives member TAKAHASHI Chizuko attended the rally and spoke on behalf of the Japanese Communist Party to extend solidarity with the workers in the Spring Struggle.
Action at the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry
Don’t shift the price of the fiscal crisis onto workers
In the early hours of the afternoon Zenroren’s task force on public sector affairs and the liaison conference of public sector unions jointly staged a sit-in in opposition to the bill to cut public workers’ wages even from what the NPA has recommended.
Speaking on behalf of the liaison conference of public sector unions, YAMAGUCHI Takashi said, “We must prevent any further promotion of the structural reform policy. We must stop the attempt to separate public workers from the general public so that we can make progress in the effort to achieve economic recovery.”
Secretary General IDO Hideaki of the Japan Federation of Commercial Broadcasting Workers’ Unions (Minpororen) spoke on behalf of the private sector unions. He said, “The task in this year’s Spring Struggle is for us to work together with the public sector unions to advance the demand for wage increase. Let us fight in solidarity to provide good jobs and public services.”
In front of the Tokyo District Court across the street from the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, a meeting was held to demand the revocation of the dismissals of Japan Airlines workers. Participants in the action on both sides of the street yelled each other.
Sit-in participants held a speech-to-speech relay, submitting to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry resolutions and petitions, and marched in demonstration through the thronged streets on the upscale Ginza district carrying signs with their demands.
The All-Japan Federation of Automobile Transport Workers’ Unions (Jiko-soren) held a rally at Meiji Park in central Tokyo, attended by about 1,000 people.
The Postal Industry Workers’ Union (Yusanro) held a rally in front of Japan Post’s head office demanding the promotion of contingent workers to regular full-time jobs.
The Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions (Nihon-iroren), the All Japan Construction, Transport and General Unions (CTG, Kenkoro)、Zenroren ? National Union of General Workers (Zenroren ? Zenkoku-ippan) also organized their respective actions.