People’s Spring Struggle
March 3 Central Action demanding economic recovery through wage increase
On March 8, the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) and the National Joint Spring Struggle Committee, joined by the Tokyo Joint Spring Struggle Committee, organized a day of action to pressure employers to offer substantial wage increase in their announcements to be made six days later.
About 3,000 people from industrial federations and local federations in Tokyo and its neighboring prefectures took part in the action.
Before or after the main actions in front of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, and the National Personnel Authority, participants carried out a sit-in protest in front of the Diet (Japanese parliament) and visited concerned ministries and members of the Diet to make their demand for wage increase heard.
They also braved the cold weather to march in demonstration.
Urging Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry to take action to stop the series of bullying workers and the general public
At noon, about 2,000 participants, carrying banners, flags and placards, filled the sidewalks near the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the National Personnel Authority.
DAIKOKU Sakuji, Zenroren president, spoke on behalf of the National Joint Spring Struggle Committee. He criticized large corporations for taking their production sites out of the country on the pretext of the strong yen, by dismissing regular full-time workers and forcing subcontractors to cut prices of supplies. He stressed the need to urge the large corporations to use a part of the 266 trillion yen, which they have amassed in internal reserves, to raise wages and protect domestic industries.
ODAGAYA Yoshikazu, secretary general of Zenroren and the National Joint Spring Struggle Committee’s secretary general, spoke on the situation surrounding the Spring Struggle. He called on the unions to address three key tasks: (1) Reaffirming the principle of the effort to reenergize the Spring Struggle, we will increase our persistent struggle in the workplace and concerted labor action in order to reject zero base pay increase and restraint of the spring struggle called for by the Business Federation (Keidanren) and major unions affiliated with the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo); (2) We will take prompt action against passage of the bill to gut the law on the use of temporary agency workers with some amendments and against the government’s reactionary moves; and (3) We will step up work on political issues facing us today, including the consumption tax increase, Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, and the resumption of nuclear power plants. He called for publicity campaigns and signature collection to be organized.
Representing Tokyo’s Ota Ward Association of Democratic Traders and Producers, HAGISHIMA Minoru spoke in solidarity with the rally. He pointed out that the number of small- and medium-sized businesses in the ward decreased by half in the last 25 years and that the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers and the consumption tax have accelerated their declines. He also said that employment has gone down and that the government plan of massive consumption tax increase must be blocked.
Three representatives of private sector federations spoke in the rally in front of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, and 3 public sector union representatives spoke in another rally in front of the National Personnel Authority.
Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions (Nihon-iroren) Vice President NAKANO Chikako in her speech called for nursing staff increases to protect people’s lives and health.
All-Japan Federation of Automobile Transport Workers’ Unions (Jiko-soren) Vice President SONODA Kosaku said, “The struggle for pay increase for taxi workers and improvement in their working conditions can be achieved on in cooperation with broad sections of the people.
The All Japan Construction, Transport and General Unions (CTG, Kenkoro)’s youth section head SATO Motoya said the federation had won wage increase offers in industrial bargaining with 13 companies the previous day. He said the federation is also determined to win institutional improvements, including a minimum wage increase and compilation of a manual for disaster prevention.
Japan Federation of National Public Service Employees’ Unions (Kokko-roren) Vice President MORINAGA Masanori spoke on behalf of the public sector. He expressed strong protest against the enactment of salary cuts for government employees.
The Kochi Federation of Prefectural and Municipal Workers’ Unions (Jichiroren)’s YAMAZAKI Tomonori (deputy head of childcare section) said that elimination of the legal requirement for municipalities to keep their childcare facilities will mean eliminating children. He also said his union will continue to demand improvement in the present childcare systems and strive to make society better for the healthy child development.
Osaka Teachers’ and Staff’s Union Deputy Secretary General FUJIKAWA Masato expressed the determination to stop the reactionary movement led by the “One Osaka” political group to enact a basic local ordinance on education and a local ordinance regulating the duties of public employees. He said more than 50 organizations are resolved to foil these proposals.
Participants then converged on the buildings of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the National Personnel Authority to shout slogans demanding a salary increase to get the economy moving again, no consumption tax increase, a far-reaching revision to the law on the use of temporary agency workers, and no salary cuts for government employees.
KOKUBUN Hirobumi, president of the National Federation of Unions of Agricultural Cooperatives Workers (Zen-nokyororen), gave the concluding speech, followed by shouts for unity.
Public employee unions protest against unconstitutional salary cuts and demand reinstatement of labor rights for them
In the afternoon, about 1,200 people, mainly from public sector federations, began a sit-in in protest against the enactment of the bill to cut public employees’ salaries. They also demanded a total restoration of the basic labor rights for public employees.
On behalf of Zenroren’s commission on the public sector, Jichiroren President NOMURA Hiroyuki spoke. He called on the participants to join him in protesting against the Diet action to approve the bill to cut salaries for government employees. He said, “It’s almost one year since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, but little progress has been made in post-disaster reconstruction. The task is for public service workers to help residents of disaster-stricken areas rebuild their living conditions. In this critical situation, the government is going to cut salaries for its employees and even considering cutbacks on their retirement benefits. This direction is in line with the business sector’s demand call for holding down the labor costs needed to employ public workers and actually help hold down hold down wages for all workers in both the public and private sectors. Let us further develop our struggle for wage increase for all workers including contingent workers. “
National Federation of Consumers’ Cooperatives Workers’ Unions (Seikyo-roren)’s president KUWATA Tomio spoke on behalf of the private sector unions. He expressed anger at public employees’ salary cuts and determination of the private sector workers to join forces with public service workers.
Federations also held their own actions.
The Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions (NIHON-IROREN) used the morning hours to carry out a sit-in in front of the Diet. Nurses dressed in white took part in the action.
The All-Japan Federation of Automobile Transport Workers’ Unions (JIKO-SOREN) ‘s workers petitioned the transportation ministry and organized a march in demonstration through the upscale district of Ginza.