3.6 General Pep Rally Held to Secure Jobs/Living Standards

Change Society with Anger: Rise Up! Fight Together!

10 March 2004
On March 6, RENGO held its 2004 Spring Struggle: 3.6 Central Pep Rally to Secure Jobs and Living Standards at Meiji Park in Tokyo with 15,200 participants in attendance. In his opening speech, RENGO President Sasamori stressed that "the current recovery of business performance is due to the efforts of the working people" and encouraged those in attendance saying "we want the entire organization to support small-and-medium-sized trade union negotiations brought to the forefront for the first time this year, and we will fight so that all organizations can maintain wage curves."
Also, RENGO Small-and-Medium-Sized Unions Joint Struggle Committee Chairperson Koide reported on the state of the joint struggles. Representatives from private sector unions, community-based unions, dispatched & part-time workers, and public sector workers each expressed their declarations for the Spring Struggle. After the rally, participants split into two courses conducting demonstration marches and appealing widely to passersby.

Photo: The rally encouraged small-and-medium-sized/local union negotiations. March 6th, Meiji Park, Tokyo. Photo: The rally encouraged small-and-medium-sized/local union negotiations. March 6th, Meiji Park, Tokyo.
RENGO President Sasamori told the attendees in his opening speech that “government and management assert that business performance has improved and that the economy has made a comeback. But business confidence in the workplace tells a far different story.” Sasamori raised such issues relating to the current Spring Struggle as improving employment, pension system reform, negotiations during the struggle, and the eradication of unpaid overwork. Telling listeners that Spring Struggle negotiations are just facing their peak period now, Sasamori encouraged them saying, “this economic recovery is being shored up by the sacrifices and contributions of the workers in the workplace. We must force management to face this fact.”

Small-and-Medium-Sized Unions Joint Struggle Committee Chair Koide reported on the severe conditions facing small-and-medium-sized trade unions and on that basis criticized “incompetent employers who try to weather periods of deflation through using long-term wage cuts due to the rough business environment.” He added that “we want small-and-medium-sized/local unions not to rely on the major unions but rather to demand wage issues on their own and negotiate with a firm resolve to decide their own wages by themselves.”

After encouraging speeches by Democratic Party of Japan President Kan and Social Democratic Party of Japan General Secretary Mataichi, representatives from private sector trade unions, community based unions, part time/dispatched workers and public-sector workers each expressed their own determination.

The community based unions representative said that “some small-and-medium-sized unions cannot even conduct Spring Struggle demands or negotiations. Firstly, we want to begin by submitting our demands and then sit at the negotiation table with businesses.” The part-time/dispatch workers representative said with resolution that “in this Spring Struggle, everyone from every workplace is demanding an hourly wage over 1,200 yen. This amount is derived from an annual income of 2,400,000 yen divided by a full-time work year of 2000 hours, which is the bare minimum amount of money one can live on. We will stick to this 1,200 yen benchmark and hang in there.”

Finally, the rally adopted an appeal and afterwards participants conducted demonstration marches in two separate directions toward Yotsuya and Yoyogi. They appealed to passersby with flags and placards that said “Equal Treatment for Part-time Workers!” and “Improve Living Standards through Wage Hikes.”