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On the 2011 NPA recommendation on salaries for civil servants

National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
September 30, 2011

The National Personnel Authority (NPA) on September 30 advised the government to cut the salaries (monthly wages) by 0.23 percent and keep the current levels of seasonal bonuses unchanged. It also offered an opinion that the government should begin to prepare to extend public service employees’ retirement age to 65. Both the recommendation and the opinion evade responding to the public workers’ pressing needs for pay raise. The NPA instead overemphasized the gap between the public sector and the private sector in order to hold down the wages and degrade the working conditions for public workers in conformity with the direction pursued by the government and the financial circles to cut labor costs as much as possible.

photoThe NPA is making such recommendation only to reveal the limits to what the NPA recommendation system can do as a substitute for the basic labor rights for civil servants. A bill to restore the right of government workers to bargain collectively with the employer has been submitted to the Diet. We strongly demand that the bill be enacted as soon as possible after making some amendments to improve provisions so that the fundamental human rights for public service workers will be guaranteed in line with Article 28 of the Constitution.

The government did not bother to obtain the Japan Federation of National Public Service Employees’ Unions (Kokko-roren)’s consent when it submitted to the Diet a bill to cut government workers’ salaries. The proposed legislation has no institutional justification. The present recommendation on the salaries of civil servants under the current rules has exposed how unreasonable the present bill is. We strongly demand that the unjust wage cut bill be withdrawn.

The NPA recommendation says the monthly salary for government employees is 0.23 percent higher than that for private sector workers. However, government data on changes in private sector wage levels since last year and the reports of the National Spring Struggle Joint Committee on the results of this year’s Spring Struggle do not show that private sector wages as of April this year were down from a year earlier. We cannot but question the NPA view that government employees are paid better than private sector workers. Government workers’ salaries were cut by 0.19 percent based on the last year’s NPA recommendation.

Regarding bonuses, the NPA survey found that it is possible to raise the amount to one equivalent to four months of salary. But it stopped short of recommending a raise on the pretext of the situations in the 3 disaster-stricken northeastern Japanese prefectures. In dealing with the issue of monthly salary, the NPA is strict in emphasizing the public-private gap, but it was intentional in making judgment without basing itself on the survey on the actual situation. This shows that the NPA recommendation system has degenerated and that it has limits.

The NPA is trying to cut salaries mainly for workers aged 40 and older. It is also considering further cuts for the elderly by abolishing the transitional measure as part of the structural reform of salaries. Ranges of salary cuts should not be carried out without reflecting unions’ opinion even under the current system. In this regard, it is unacceptable that the NPS does not take into account the demand put forward by the Japan Federation of National Public Service Employees’ Unions (Kokko-roren).

The NPA’s opinion to the effect that the retirement age should be extended in stages to 65 can be acceptable in the sense that it will be a measure in tandem with the staged extension of the starting age for pension benefits. However, cutting salaries for the elderly aged 60 and older is unacceptable as a measure encouraging discrimination based on age.

The NPA says that many public service workers are enduring long hour work in order to deal with the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan. It is true that they are working hard to help people in disaster areas rebuild their lives as soon as possible. We strongly demand that the government to withdraw the bill on provisional measures on public workers’ pay raise and improve their salaries based on talks with the responding unions in line with the NPA recommendation in order to respond to the hard work of public service employees, who are well aware of their role in public services and displaying their high level of professional ethics.

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