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Japanese Trade Union Confederation
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RENGO’s Policies for the 2008 Spring Struggle for a Better Life (Excerpts)

While executive compensation in main companies has shown double-digit increase, the wages of workers have fallen as seen in the surveys of both “Monthly Labor Statistics” and “Statistics on the Real Situation of Wages in the Private Sector”. Moreover, the number of non-regular workers who are considered to belong to lower wage brackets is increasing. The actual situation of excessively long working hours of rank and file is not yet improved. Thus, against the background of the progress of a bipolarization and the expansion of disparities, the workers’ relative share to the gains is declining from a macro point of view.

In order to break away from the gap-widening society, RENGO will make active efforts for the improvement of wages which will lead to overall raises of the bottom wages and to the correction of disparities, and for the improvement of treatments of non-regular workers and their replacement to regular employment. At the same time, RENGO will actively work for the shortening of working hours to realize a work-life balance, and for a raise of premiums for extra work which are too low from an international point of view. It is also necessary to make business transactions reasonable and fair, and to substantially raise the statutory minimum wages so as to redress the gap-widening society.

RENGO will concentrate the power it has in order to wrestle with these problems, and will make efforts, with all its might, for correcting the bipolarization and gap-widening society so as to lead to the improvement of life.

Basic Framework of the 2008 Spring Struggle for a Better Life

1. The Roles and Basic Stance of the 2008 Spring Struggle for a Better Life

  1. (1) The roles of the Spring Struggle for a Better Life are to keep and improve the livelihood of workers, to positively participate in the decision-making of the proper way of social distribution as the trade union movement, and to bring into play its influences upon the macro economy such as its influence upon the expansion of domestic demand.

    Viewing the current situation, RENGO will aim at 1% or more of real GDP growth to be distributed to the workers from the macro-economic point of view. At the same time, RENGO will aim at realizing a proper distribution of achievements to all working people including non-regular workers through pursuing the distribution commensurate to economic growth.
  2. (2) RENGO will actively seek the wage improvement which lays stress upon the monthly wage. Above all, while putting all employed workers including unorganized workers in the field of vision, and placing importance upon the correction of the disparities in working conditions of the workers in small and medium-sized enterprises and non-regular workers including part-time workers and other lower income bracket workers, RENGO will intend to raise overall wages.
  3. (3) In order to raise wages of workers as a whole, it is necessary to raise the statutory minimum wages up to a livable level. At the same time, efforts must be strengthened for concluding and/or revising agreements on intra-company minimum wages which will lead to the raise of statutory minimum wages.
  4. (4) In order to establish a work-life balance, it is necessary to correct various distortions related to work and life. For this purpose, RENGO will turn its eyes on excessively long working hours, and endeavor to shorten total real working hours and to raise premiums for extra work.
  5. (5) Viewing the division of roles between RENGO and its affiliates, joint struggle mechanisms will be built so that multiplier effects can be displayed through the reinforcement of the joint struggles of the workers of small and medium-sized enterprises, the joint struggles of part-time workers and other joint struggles.

2. The tasks that all trade unions should tackle (Minimum Tasks)

  1. (1) To tackle the task of improving wages in addition to securing the portions of wage raises to be kept along the wage curves.
  2. (2) To tackle the task of improving treatments including wages for all employees including part-time workers.
  3. (3) To tackle the task of concluding or revising intra-company minimum wage agreements on the basis of the living wage level set by RENGO (RENGO Living Wage).
  4. (4) To tackle the task of shortening total real working hours in order to correct excessively long working hours.
  5. (5) To tackle the task of raising premiums for overtime work and holiday work.

The Concrete Tasks to Be Tackled

1. The tasks related to Government’s policies and national systems

RENGO will demand the Government’s budget to be intensively distributed to the correction of disparities and to the creation and security of employment in the regions. At the same time, RENGO will make efforts to realize the following Government’s policies and national systems:

  1. (1) Legal and other arrangements for correcting disparities
    1. a) Promotion of a medium-term raise of the statutory minimum wages
    2. b) Revision of the Worker Dispatching Law from a standpoint of the protection of workers.
    3. c) Raise of premium wages for overtime work (the revision of the Labor Standards Law).
  2. (2) Establishment of social safety nets and other arrangements so that everybody can live in security
    1. a) Establishment of reliable social security systems (pension, medical care and nursing care, linkage between employment security and social security systems, etc.)
    2. b) Correction of unfair tax systems (the reinforcement of the function of income re-distribution system)
  3. (3) Drastic reform of the public personnel system and industrial relation system in the public sector; the establishment of basic trade union rights for public employees

2. The tasks related to the improvement of wages and the correction of disparities

  1. (1) Improvement of wages
    1. a) On the basis of securing the portions of wage raises to be kept along the wage curves, RENGO will make efforts to positively “improve wages” through the raise of basic wages and hourly wages, the correction of wage curves, the raise of bottom wages of lower income brackets and so forth.
    2. b) Putting all the employed workers including unorganized workers in the field of vision, RENGO will intend to raise the bottom wages as a whole.
    3. c) Giving top priority to the improvement of monthly wages on which our life is based, RENGO will also aim at keeping and increasing annual income.
  2. (2) The improvement of wages to be achieved by the trade unions of small and medium-sized enterprises and local industries
    In order to raise the bottom wages as a whole, it is important to raise not only the amount of the raises but also the level of actual wages measured by their amounts. For the purpose of preventing the decline of wage levels of trade union members and improving them, standard levels of the amounts to be achieved or to have been achieved by the trade unions of small and medium-sized enterprises and local industries are set for reference as follows:
    1. a) Standard amounts for improving wage levels
      i. Standard amounts to be achieved (for reference)
      25 years old   ¥185,000
      (¥5,000)
      30 years old   ¥210,000
      (¥6,000)
      35 years old   ¥240,000
      (¥5,000)
      40 years old   ¥265,000
      Note : Figures in the parentheses show the yearly differences by age.
      * Standard amounts to be achieved (for reference) have been set in reference to “the average level” of respective indicators of the data on individual wages collected by Local RENGOs for their regional “Minimums Tasks” (the data was collected by age point) and of the surveys on wages conducted by RENGO’s major affiliates as well as of the Basic Survey on Wage Structure conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (size of 10 to 99 persons, all industries, the total of men and women at the age of 35 in 5-year or more continuous service).

      1. ii. Setting of the target standard amounts including the portions for wage improvement and disparity rectification
        Taking the policies of industrial federations and Local RENGOs into account, each unit organization should set appropriate target wage levels on the basis of the result of wage analysis made at its own unit.

    2. b) Standards of wage raise demands
      1. i. Those trade unions which can calculate scheduled yearly wage raises along the wage curves should demand:
        Confirmation by both management and trade unions to secure the wage curves and to keep scheduled yearly wage raises along the wage curves, plus the raise of ¥2,500 or more (for the portion to improve wages).

      2. ii. Those trade unions which find it difficult to calculate scheduled yearly wage raises should demand:
        The raise of ¥7,000 or more;
        The raise of ¥4,500 (standard) for securing the wage curves, plus the raise of ¥2,500 or more (for the portion to improve wages)
  3. (3) The improvement of treatments of part-time workers and other non-regular workers (2nd Meeting of the Joint Struggle Congress of Part-time Workers, December 6, 2007)
    Each union aims at specifying working conditions, abiding the laws and rules, excluding any discriminative treatment based on “because they are part-time workers, there is nothing to do for them,” and realizing equal treatments through labour-management negotiations.
    On the basis of these basic aims, challenge items will be identified.
  4. (4) The target amount of wage levels (for reference)
    1. a) The wage levels of standard workers
      * 35-year-old worker in 17-year continuous service
      Standard fixed wage: ¥311,000 or more
      * 30-year-old worker in 12-year continuous service
      Standard fixed wage: ¥268,000 or more
      * Standard starting wage of 18-year-old worker: ¥162,000 or more
    2. b) Minimum wages by age
      As to the minimum wages by age, each industrial federation should examine the levels of them and work so as to secure the support for bottom wages and the minimum living wages through concluding an agreement on the secured minimum amount of wages by age.
  5. (5) Correction of the differences in working conditions between men and women
    1. a) RENGO will try to grasp the wage distribution (plot chart) between men and women, check the problems in it, and proceed with its improvement. In addition, RENGO will promote the task to grasp the actual situation of wages.
      * The affiliates are requested to support the efforts being made by each of their unit unions and to grasp how the efforts are being made.
      * Each unit union is requested to draw a wage chart based on wage data, and, in case an unbalanced leaning is seen in it, it should analyze its cause and make efforts to improve it.
    2. b) Fair and transparent management of wage system and personnel evaluation system
      In case there is an unbalanced leaning in the wage distribution plot chart between men and women, it is required to inspect whether, as a factor of its causes, wage system and/or personnel evaluation system are not based on the principle of neutrality in sex, and, if any, to make efforts for the fair and transparent management of the systems.

3. The raise of minimum wages in order to raise bottom wages

In order to realize the wage level which enables all workers to live at least a minimum life, it is needed to regulate the level socially.

  1. (1) Efforts for intra-company minimum wages
    1. a) RENGO will urge to conclude the intra-company minimum wage agreements applicable to all the employees of respective companies, aiming at the level of RENGO Living Wage.
    2. b) The intra-company minimum wage agreements which lead to the raise of statutory minimum wages should be concluded. The content of the agreements should be above the level of RENGO Living Wage.
  2. (2) The raise of statutory minimum wages
    1. a) Placing an emphasis upon living expenses, RENGO will make every effort to realize the minimum wage level which enables everyone to lead at least a minimum life. The details will be examined in the Sub-committee on Minimum Wages (tentative name) which will be set up under the Committee on Working Conditions, as well as in the National Meeting of Officials in Charge of Minimum Wages.
    2. b) For the purpose of raising minimum wages, RENGO will develop a social campaign.

4. Reform of working patterns to establish a work-life balance

It is necessary to build up a social movement in order to shorten total real working hours and to establish a work-life balance. For this purpose, RENGO will promote its activities in line with its Medium-term Policy for Shortening of Working Hours. Following activities will be promoted, in particular:

  1. (1) RENGO will promote the activity to shorten normal working hours (the increase of paid leaves, the shortening of daily working hours and so forth) and to promote, at the same time, the taking of paid leaves and the increase of granted paid leaves.
  2. (2) In order to reduce the overtime work which is one of the causes of long working hours, it is needed to re-confirm the contents of the agreement concluded on overtime work and holiday work under Article 36 of the Labor Standards Law, and then to make them widely and thoroughly known. Moreover, in concluding an agreement under Article 36, efforts should be made to shorten the extended hours of working hours.
  3. (3) As to the premiums for extra work, while maintaining the idea shown in the targets set in its “Medium-term Policy for Shortening of Working Hours” (50 % increase for overtime work and 100% increase for holiday work), RENGO will establish, as one step forward in the upcoming 2008 Spring Struggle, a joint struggle organization with the participation of each industrial federation, from the viewpoint that it is needed to make our movement a social movement to advance it forward in a concrete manner, and then give shape to the movement by overall consensus and develop strong activities.
  4. (4) In order to establish a work-life balance, it is necessary for the trade unions themselves to make “a declaration of the reform of working patterns” independently and to promote self-reforms and workplace reforms.

5. Establishment of work rules

It is necessary to establish work rules which comply with the laws and collective agreements, guarantee options of workers, and enable workers to realize fair working patterns.

  1. a) RENGO, together with its affiliates and Local RENGOs, will seek to establish work rules. It is needed to thoroughly observe the work rules set not only for regular workers but also for part-time workers, fixed-term workers, dispatched workers, contract workers and other non-regular workers (for example, the inspection of disguised contract, the security of employment and so forth). It is also needed to thoroughly comply with the laws and collective agreements when the measures are taken for, for example, both physical and mental safety and health.
  2. b) RENGO will strengthen its activities for the thorough management of working time and the eradication of unpaid overtime work.
  3. c) RENGO will thoroughly cope with the Law concerning Stabilization of Employment of Elderly Persons (Revised), and work for establishing a system which enables all the workers who want to work until the age of 65 to work as they want.
  4. d) A jury system (a citizen judge system) will start in May 2009. In case anybody is selected as a citizen judge, he or she cannot refuse it, in principle. Therefore, RENGO will promote the conclusion of collective agreements intended for all the employees to be allowed a paid treatment (a special leave) when anyone of them gets a summons to be at a district court as a candidate for the citizen judge, or when he or she attends a district court as a citizen judge during his or her working hours. Moreover, RENGO will demand that the courts and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare should take measures to create a workplace environment where the worker citizen judge can easily be present at the district court.
  5. e) As to its activities for the Equal Employment Opportunity Law (Revised), RENGO will promote the activities to dig up indirect discriminations, and, through grasping their actual situation, promote the sorting out of the problems and proceed with their improvement. RENGO will also promote the activities to inspect disadvantageous treatments due to pregnancy or childbirth which are prohibited by the Revised Law, and to seek the annulment of them as well as a review of the agreement.

6. Campaigns in relation to appropriate business transactions and to the public contract

  1. (1) On the basis of the corporate social responsibility, RENGO will call for the improvement of business transactions through the formulation of the code of conducts of enterprises and its explanation to the related companies, and through the utilization of labor-management consultation meetings of corporate groups and administration’s authorization systems (such as a system to authorize as the high safety enterprise in cargo transportation industry). It is also necessary to make the transaction guidelines (which have been already set in seven types of business) thoroughly known.
  2. (2) RENGO will continue to strengthen its campaign related to the public contract, calling for, for example, the enactment of the local ordinances which oblige to set the working conditions so as to surpass RENGO Living Wage.

How to Proceed with the Struggle

1. Formation of wage raise quotations and the building-up of mechanisms for ripple effects

  1. (1) RENGO will aim at letting wage raise quotations have ripple effects through positively providing workers including those in the regions and unorganized workers with the information based on the information disclosed by industrial federations. In disclosing information, RENGO will examine the method to collect information and make efforts to enrich its contents so that it can have far-reaching ripple effects.
  2. (2) In addition, RENGO will aim at letting wage raise quotations have ripple effects through reinforcing the cooperation among the Joint Struggle Center for the Workers of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, the Joint Struggle Congress of Part-time Workers and other joint struggle bodies. Moreover, RENGO will proceed with negotiations at local industries through strengthening the functions of the Joint Struggle Centers for the Workers of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises set up at all Local RENGOs.
  3. (3) RENGO will clearly express its opinions to the employers’ organizations including Japan Business Federation.
  4. (4) Sticking to the basic trade union rights, RENGO will proceed with negotiations in the upcoming Spring Struggle for a Better Life.

2. Setting up of Struggle Bodies

  1. (1) Central Struggle Committee (composed of the members of the Central Executive Committee)
  2. (2) Tactics Committee (composed of President, Deputy President, Vice Presidents and General Secretary)
  3. (3) Enlarged Tactics Committee (composed of the members of the Tactics Committee and the representatives of the Industrial Liaison Councils)
  4. (4) Joint Struggle Center for the Workers of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
  5. (5) Joint Struggle Congress of Part-time Workers

3. Submission of written demands and designation of deadline zones to draw out replies

  1. (1) In principle, written demands should be submitted by the end of February.
  2. (2) Designation of deadline zones to draw out replies
    This will be discussed in the Central Struggle Committee in due time.
  3. (3) Joint Struggle Center for the Workers of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Joint Struggle Congress of Part-time Workers
    The submission of demands and designation of deadline zones will be examined in each Center or the Congress respectively and will be specified in “RENGO’s Policy at the Moment”.

4. Strengthening of the whole year activities

  1. (1) Workplace-level inspection activities
    Industrial federations should promote workplace-level inspection activities according to the actual situation of their organizations. RENGO will promote a campaign to designate January and February as the months for workplace-level inspection activities.
  2. (2) Labor advice services
    RENGO will provide labor advice services on the whole year basis, but, in the upcoming Spring Struggle in particular, RENGO will intensively promote the services during the month of February.
  3. (3) Activities to eradicate unpaid overtime work
    As to its activities for the incorporation of the management of working hours into collective agreements, for the thorough control of working hours through inspecting the agreements signed under Article 36 of the Labor Standards Law and for the eradication of unpaid overtime work, RENGO will promote these activities as the whole year struggles.
  4. (4) Activities based on RENGO’s Medium-term Policy for Shortening of Working Hours
    Aiming at the working patterns which enable trade union members to really feel comforts and affluence, and on the basis of its “Medium-term Policy for Shortening of Working Hours”, RENGO will promote the deduction of normal working hours, the increase of annual paid leaves, more acquisition of paid leaves, the deduction of overtime work and so forth.

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