Zenroren 59th General Council Meeting adopts action plan for 2020 Spring Struggle
The National Confederation of trade Unions (Zenroren) held its 59th General Council Meeting from January 23-24 in Tokyo. Attended by 182 delegates and trade union members from 18 industrial federations and 47 local organizations, the meeting discussed this year’s Spring Struggle and unanimously adopted an action policy and an appeal under the slogan: “Let us win a major wage increase, a uniform minimum wage system, equal treatment and a decrease in consumption tax; Stop the Abe government’s push for an amendment to Article 9 of the Constitution and for a dismantling social security system; Let us build up joint struggle in the workplace and the local community to open a bright future!”
ZENROREN APPEAL for 2020 People’s Spring Struggle
National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
59 th National Council meeting
January 24, 2020
The 2020 People’s Spring Struggle has started for rectifying economic inequalities, winning a substantial wage increase, and achieving just and equitable society.
Workers in many workplaces are vocally complaining that their wages are too low to support their living, that they want a shortage of hands to be solved and that it is unjust for contingent workers are lower paid than permanent workers. It is also the fact that there are workers who think it is difficult to demand a pay rise due to a decline in company profitability or they can’t help it because they are not permanent employees. These workers blame themselves for their disadvantaged positions and are unable to make their demands. The annual People’s Spring Struggle is organized to help them resolve their problems. Let us bring forward demands, divulge the truth of what is hampering workers’ efforts to realize their demands, and act in unity to achieve demands in the workplace and local communities.
During the seven years under the government of Prime Minister ABE Shinzo, large corporations have amassed 449 trillion yen in internal reserves, a sharp increase of 116 trillion yen from seven years ago. The wealth is concentrated in the hands of the rich few and big business. By contrast, workers are facing pay cuts, more contingent work, and longer working hours. Wages have declined over a period of 20 years only in Japan among the OECD 35 countries. Poverty, income inequality, harassment and gender discrimination are increasing in the country.
The consumption tax rate was twice raised under the government of Prime Minister ABE Shinzo. Soon after the latest raise to 10 percent last October, the government began to push ahead with a policy of forcing the people to pay more for social services and imposing cutbacks on social benefits. Closing or consolidation of public hospitals, which are indispensable for local residents, is planned for 424 locations. Revenue from the consumption tax is not used at all for social services.
The need now is for the Japanese economy to reduce economic inequalities, raise wages for workers, take steps to improve people’s livelihoods, and use more tax money for social services and education, and to lower the consumption tax in order to boost the purchasing power of people and build a locally cyclical economy. This is possible only if a part of the large corporations’ internal reserves is used.
The best step that should be taken is to increase the minimum hourly wage everywhere in the country to 1,500 yen. We will make every effort focusing on this demand in the 2020 People’s Spring Struggle.
A new law will come into effect on April 1 to prohibit employers from offering irrationally unequal treatment to part-time workers and fixed-term employees. The revised Article 36 of the Labor Standards Act, which regulates long working hours, will be applied to small- and medium-sized businesses. A new employment system will be introduced to public service workplaces where employment contract will be renewed every fiscal year. In both cases, workers need to raise their voices if they are to demand improvement of working conditions. The trade union is the most reliable safety net for all workers. We call on contingent workers and all workers to join the union to raise voices together.
Prime Minister Abe’s government has used government for his personal benefits as clear from a series of corruption, including scandals involving school operators Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Gakuen, the cherry blossom viewing party scandal, and corruption regarding integrated resorts projects that include casino. Even though the Abe administration is seen terminally ill, it is still intent on revising the Constitution in order to turn Japan into a country that wages war. It has sent Self-Defense Force troops to the Middle East. We must move the country away from this political direction. Let us broaden our joint effort with the general public to put an end to the Abe administration and let the Constitution guide Japan. Let us join international solidarity action to fight economic inequality and global action against climate change and other adverse environmental effects.
We call on all workers to raise their voice from the workplace and local communities and participate in the 2020 Spring Struggle to build a just and equitable society.