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The National Personnel Authority (NPA) has recommended lowering the annual bonuses for government employees, who are making strenuous efforts to provide public services in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. In Japan, basic labor rights (the right to strike and the right to collective bargaining) for public-sector workers are restricted. In compensation for the restrictions, the NPA decides on the working conditions for them. The NPA ‘s recommendation for lowering the pay is anomaly in the world, particularly under the COVID-19 Pandemic. The ILO’s supervisory body on international labor standards has repeatedly recommended the Japanese government to restore basic labor rights to the country’s public sector workers. The recent NPA recommendations reveals this problem.

Statement on 2020 Personnel Authority recommendations

October 7, 2020
Kurosawa Koichi
Secretary General
National Confederation of Trade Unions

Zenroren public service union council submitted petitions to NPA for increasing wage and working condition of public sector workers

The National Personnel Authority (NPA) today (Oct. 7) made recommendations and report to the government and the Diet on salaries and bonuses for central government employees. It says that their annual bonuses in fiscal 2020 should be lowered by 0.05 month of salary from the previous year to 4.45 months and that it will separately recommend and report on their monthly salaries on other occasion.

Recommending the lowering of the annual bonuses goes against the need to improve livelihoods, which is called for not only by public service workers but also by many other workers, who are affected by the NPA recommendations. It is tantamount to pouring cold water on the public service workers, who are fulfilling their missions by doing their utmost to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We are not satisfied at all by the present recommendations, which are far from meeting our needs.

The NPA recommendations refer to nothing about the need to improve treatment of non-permanent employees, including holiday systems. While the NPA refers to efforts to ensure equal treatment, prevent harassments, and to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, we cannot say that it is fulfilling its responsibilities as a compensatory mechanism for the restricted basic labor rights for public service workers.

Regarding the monthly salaries, the NPA says it will make the necessary recommendations and report on other occasion. We will continue demanding local personnel authorities come up with recommendations for an improved pay. We will also continue to step up the effort to strengthen the unity in the struggle to win a raise for local public workers, Independent Administrative Agency workers, and other workers who are affected by the personnel authority recommendations.

Zenroren has been devoting its efforts to winning a sizable wage increase for workers in the way conducive to the revitalization of the nation’s local economies, which is needed in the midst of this pandemic. We have particularly demanded the establishment of a unified national minimum wage system as well as a sharp minimum wage increase. But this year’s raise was no more than 1 yen per hour calculated by the weighted average method. Our survey shows that there are little regional differences in the cost of living. Zenroren will continue to do all it can to realize the unified national minimum wage system, which is needed to revitalize the local economies and small- and medium-sized businesses as well as to correct regional disparities.

Holding down wages and forcing the workers to endure the present conditions will mean launching another “lost two decades” just as we experienced in the world financial crisis in the wake of the collapse of the Lehman Brothers. The same mistake must not be repeated. We strongly demand that the country be directed toward revitalizing local economies by raising wages and improving the working conditions.

Prime Minister Suga says his policies stand for the principle of “self-help, mutual support, and public assistance”. This means relinquishing his responsibilities to protect people’s lives and livelihoods. His authoritarian stance emerged in the recent process of appointing new members of the Science Council of Japan. There is no end to his runaway politics. People’s anger is being translated into a growing joint movement by opposition parties, the citizens’ movement, and the trade union movement for the common cause that includes opposition to adverse revision of the Constitution.

Zenroren will make every effort to stop the adverse revision of the Constitution and change politics, by linking it to the workers’ demands. We are determined to strive in the workplace and local communities to change course of politics to break away from policy of turning Japan into a country that wages war and put people’s livelihoods first, demanding the rights and better working conditions for public sector workers who support democratic administration.

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