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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 January 25 - 31  > Co-op in Fukuoka applies ‘same work, same pay’ principle
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2017 January 25 - 31 [LABOR]

Co-op in Fukuoka applies ‘same work, same pay’ principle

January 29, 2017
A 20-year-long union effort at a co-op in Fukuoka Prefecture has borne fruit in the form of the “equal pay for equal job” rule between men and women and between full-time regular employees and part-timers or temps.

FCo-op in 2008 revised the pay system so that regular and non-regular workers received the nearly same pay for the same work. Then, in October last year, it adjusted the ratio of the former’s hourly wage to the latter’s from the previous 100 to 95 to 100 to 103. The actual hourly wage, before the pay system was revised, was 1,200 yen for the former and 915 yen as for the latter.

In 1996, as payroll-cost-cutting strategies, FCo-op started to employ part-time drivers of house-to-house delivery vehicles. This event triggered what was destined to be a 20-year-long-struggle by the FCo-op labor union. In 2002, FCo-op began soliciting early-retirement volunteers and hired more non-regular workers to make up for the loss of these early retired employees. However, as FCo-op differentiated the working conditions of part-timers or temps from that of full-time regular employees, many non-regular workers were unhappy with the treatment and quit one after another. As a result, FCo-cop came to suffer from chaos in its service operations and frequent road accidents.

Realizing the gravity of the situation, both the FCo-op labor union and the FCo-op board in 2003 fully embarked on holding labor-management talks to improve the employment system. After more than ten years of negotiations, the wage disparity based on sex and between regular and non-regular workers has been significantly redressed.

While the gap in terms of hourly wages disappeared, lifetime wages which include bonuses and retirement allowances for part-timers or temps remain far below that for regular employees. The ratio of lifetime earnings of regular staff to those on non-regular contracts is still 100 to 75.

Secretary General of the union Shitama Narumi said that the union will continue to discuss with the co-cop management board about steps that need to be taken to eliminate lifetime wage gaps in parallel with the effort to increase the wage level of workers as a whole.

Shimazaki Yasushi, a co-cop board member, said that the co-op management responded to the union demand in compliance with the philosophy, “The co-op will cooperatively work for the betterment of people and community.”

Shimazaki also said, “This is only the starting point. The revised wage system has so far brought about good results to our business: The turnover rate went down to one third; the number of work-related accidents has halved; and the staff in their 20s and 30s, who used to be extremely few, are starting to take root in our workplace.”

He recalled that they had had discussions with the union, thinking of not only FCo-cop staff but also all workers in Japan and their prospects for positive change in the future. Shimazaki went on to say, “I believe that to achieve the same treatment for all workers will definitely help create a better Japan.”
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