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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 March 15 - 21  > Zenroren workers go on strike over minuscule pay increase offer
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2017 March 15 - 21 TOP3 [LABOR]

Zenroren workers go on strike over minuscule pay increase offer

March 17, 2017
The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) and independent unions held various actions across the country on March 16, including strikes, in protest against the responses made by management to their demands in this year’s spring wage bargaining round (Shunto).

On the previous day, major companies in key industries such as automobile and electrical machinery gave their responses to higher wage demands. Those corporations responded to the union demands to raise the basic wage rate for the fourth consecutive year, but the offered increases were around 1,000 yen a month, less than last year’s offers.

Toyota Motor Corporation presented a 1,300 yen increase in the monthly base pay, 200 yen less than the previous year. Nissan Motor Corporation offered an increase of 1,500 yen a month, the same amount as the year before. Five leading manufacturers of electrical machinery, including Hitachi and Panasonic, jointly proposed raising the basic wage by 1,000 yen a month, a decrease of 500 yen from the previous year. These insultingly low offers indicate that the Abe government economic policy, Abenomics, has ended up in failure. That policy is based on a trickle-down theory which argues that if large corporations make huge profits, it would eventually lead to increasing workers’ wages.

On March 16, the Zenroren-affiliated Japan Metal, Manufacturing, Information and Telecommunication Workers’ Union (JMITU) staged strikes in 22 prefectures, protesting against the offers made by NTT Group companies. Those telecommunications firms proposed to raise the monthly basic wages by 1,400 yen on average, which is below last year’s figure.

At a rally calling a strike which was held in front of NTT Corporation’s head office in Tokyo, JMITU Vice Chair Usami Toshikazu gave a speech. He pointed out that NTT has turned a record net operating profit and that its internal reserves have reached 9.8 trillion yen. “It’s unpardonable for NTT to turn its back on workers’ demands while increasing stock dividends and executives’ remuneration significantly,” he stressed.

On the same day, members of the All Japan Construction, Transport and General Workers’ Union (CTG, Kenkoro) walked out to push East Japan Railway Company (JR East) to boost its original pay-raise offer of 1,000 yen a month. A JR worker who joined a strike in Shinagawa, Tokyo, said, “The safety of transportation won’t be ensured unless workers live stable lives. I cannot accept such a cheap offer.”

Medical and welfare workers’ unions also initiated strikes around the nation with tens of thousands of members taking part. In addition to wage increases, they called for shorter working hours and an improvement in the poor working conditions.

Past related article:
> Zenroren resolves to fight for substantial wage hikes for all workers [January 26 & 27, 2017]
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