For victorious 2013 Peoplefs Spring Struggle
-Wage increase and improvement in employment
3,000 people take part in day of central action on March 5 for victorious 2013 People' Spring Struggle
About 3,000 workers on March 5 participated in a day of action in Tokyo at the call of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) and the Spring Struggle National Joint Committee as part of the struggle to win a substantial wage increase for all workers, permanent full-time workers as well as contingent workers, and private- and public- sector workers, in order to boost the nation's economy through increasing domestic demand and to get a national uniform minimum wage established at 1,000 yen. Before or after attending a rally at Hibiya Public Hall, various federations lobbied relevant ministries and the Diet (parliament) and held their respective meetings.
More jobs and better wages! Stop the TPP
About 2,000 people held a rally in the afternoon at Hibiya Public Hall in central Tokyo for a victorious 2013 Spring Struggle.
Zenroren President DAIKOKU Sakuji spoke on behalf of the organizers.
He said, "Let us urge large corporations, which have amassed 267 trillion yen in internal reserves, to fulfill their social responsibility. Even mass media nowadays are criticizing the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) by pointing out that 'wage increase is essential'. Let us generate strong winds in favor of our call for wage increase. Let us fight in cooperation with all working people in developing a persistent struggle.
The chairman of the Hokkaido Family Farmers Movement (Nouminren) spoke in solidarity. He was in Tokyo to press the government to give up on Japan's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations. Japan's Prime Minister ABE Shinzo is promoting Japan's participation. He said, "Farmers are infuriated by Prime Minister Abe's reckless move to join the TPP talks. We will make every effort to prevent Japan from participating in the TPP talks, which would distort our country. Let us raise our voices of opposition everywhere throughout the country and isolate the Abe Cabinet."
Zenroren Secretary General ODA Yoshikazu gave the status report on this year's Spring Struggle. He emphasized the importance of confronting the business sector, which is hostile to workers' demand for wage increase, by calling for a bottom-up improvement in the minimum wage.
Activists from five federations used their speeches to express determination to fight.
A representative of the All-Japan Federation of Automobile Transport Workers' Unions (Jiko-soren) arrived at the rally after petitioning the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry in the morning. He said, "Some taxi drivers are paid less than minimum wage. Increasing the minimum wage to at least 1,000 yen per hour can pave the way for wage increase for these taxi drivers. Jiko-soren will put up its candidates for members of the prefectural minimum wage council."
A representative of the All-Japan Federation of Teachers' and Staff Unions (Zenkyo) said, "Prime Minister Abe is reckless in dealing with issues of education by rushing to turn the country into a country that can make war. We must stop young people from being mobilized as 'national defense force' soldiers."
A representative of the Iwate Prefectural Federation of Consumers' Cooperatives Workers' Unions (Seikyororen) said: "The minimum wage in Iwate Prefecture is the second lowest in Japan. Each one of us should rise to spread the movement to win a minimum wage of at least 1,000 yen."
A representative of the Japan Federation of Prefectural and Municipal Workers' Unions (Jichiroren) said, "We will work together with private sector unions to make wage increase and permanent full-time jobs a matter of fact."
Nurses who are members of the Japan Federation of Medical Workers' Unions (Nihon-iroren) appeared on the stage wearing hospital whites and carrying a banner reading "Improve working conditions for overnight shifts." They said, "Practicing nurses are paid lower than regular nurses even though they are doing the same kind of work. We will win a pay raise so that workers can feel how nice it is to be a nurse in our workplaces."
After the rally, participants marched in demonstration through central Tokyo's upscale Ginza Street. They carried placards and large banners with slogans: "Economic recovery through wage increase" and "Stop Japan's participation in TPP talks."
Workers surround business sector's headquarters
After the demonstration, participants moved to the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren). Outside the Keidanren building they shouted their demand that large corporations use a part of their internal reserves to increase jobs and wages.
The president of the Tokyo Regional Council of Trade Unions spoke to the protesters. He called for opposition to the business sector's tyrannical behavior by saying: "Salary cuts for public service employees contradict the Abe Cabinet policy goal of ending the deflation. Let us join forces to oppose the promotion of nuclear power generation and Japan's participation in the TPP talks, which constitute attacks from the business sector."
A representative of the National Association of Traders' and Producers' Organizations joined the demonstrators in the rally and spoke in solidarity. He said, "It is possible to end the deflation only if workers are better paid and if society regards permanent full-time employment as a matter of course. The consumption tax is more unfair than any other tax. We will join hands with you to fight to end the consumption tax."
Four people from national and local federations expressed their determination.
The Postal Industry Workers Union's secretary general spoke about how casual workers are discriminated against in the postal companies. He stressed that they are paid less than two million yen saying, "Large corporations are amassing internal reserves by cutting wages and increasing the use of casual workers. We will encourage all angry workers to rise in this Spring Struggle." He added that postal workers are ready to go on strike in the crucial stage of the Spring Struggle.
The secretary general of the National Union of General Workers - Zenroren (Zenroren-Zenkoku-ippan) said, "Prime Minister Abe should instruct a minimum wage increase first before asking the business sector to increase wages. In fact, salary cuts for public service employees are being used as leverage to hold down wages in both the public and private sectors. We will put up a firm struggle in workplaces."
The secretary general of the All-Japan Metal and Information Machinery Workers' Unions (JMIU) said, "We have asked the employers to respond to our wage increase demand on March 6. We are ready to go on strike if our demands are not met. Prime Minister Abe has set an inflation target. But he should set a wage increase target first. Corporate executives should decide to give workers a pay raise now."
The president of the Iwate Prefectural Federation of Trade Unions spoke on behalf of workers in the disaster-hit areas. He said, "Iwate's regional minimum wages are in the lowest C and D levels. We will wage the minimum wage campaign by organizing caravans. We are demanding the financial sector use a part of internal reserves held by large corporations for the benefit of workers." His speech reflected the voices of workers in the disaster-hit areas.
Zenroren Vice President NEMOTO Takashi gave the closing speech. Hesaid, "This day of action has made clear that it is imperative to create more quality jobs and increase wages. Our struggle is driven by the demands of millions of workers. We use today's action as a major step to carry on the struggle in solidarity with people of all sectors."
March 8 Day of Tokyo Port Action -- Stop dumping and keep fairness of fees
On March 8, unions of workers in Tokyo Port held a day of action for a victorious 2013 Spring Struggle. Zenroren President DAIKOKU Sakuji joined them to express solidarity. They cruised in Tokyo Bay in eight ships decorated by union flags and banners reading workers' demands. Many workers from the ground, maritime and air transport industry joined port workers in the on-sea demonstration, among them were members of the plaintiffs' group in a lawsuit against Japan Airlines for the retraction of dismissals.
At a rally before the demonstration, Zenroren Vice President ITO Junichi spoke in solidarity. Referring to news that convenience store chain operator Lawson has decided to raise the amount of bonuses for about 3,300 permanent full-time workers in their late 20s to 40s, a three percent increase in annual income, he said, "The company should also give a pay raise to more than 180,000 casual workers as well," adding that Zenroren will do its utmost to win a wage increase for all workers, casual as well as full-time.
A representative of the Federation of Tokyo Port Workers' Unions said, "Deregulation policy has opened the way for shippers to pay lower rates for handling shipments, and this in turn affects workers' wages. It is necessary to regulate the rates."
A representative of the Minato Ward Joint Struggle Council said that the unions are carrying out publicity in front of major electronics companies - such as Panasonic, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Sony and Sharp - which have their offices in the ward - urging them to use a part of their internal reserves for the benefit of workers.
After the rally, participants went aboard the ships with union flags and banners reading "Increase wages; More than 1,000 yen to ever workers anywhere"; "Eliminate deaths from overwork," and "opposition to dismissals through company streamlining. Workers on board ships and those working along the coast were cheering the demonstrators.