KOGA Says! RENGO's Statement by General Secretary

KOGA says!
Standard Raises of Regional Minimum Wages Set by Central Minimum Wage Deliberation Council

08 August 2007
RENGO’s Statement by General Secretary Koga
  1. On August 7, 2007, the Standard Setting Sub-Committee of the Central Minimum Wage Deliberation Council (constituted of representatives of workers, employers and public interests) presented standard amounts to be raised of regionally different minimum wages in the form of the view of the members of public interests, which will be submitted to a meeting of the Council to be held on August 10, 2007. The standard amounts of regional minimum wages proposed to be raised per hour for this year are 19 yen for Rank A region, 14 yen for Rank B region, 9 to 10 yen for Rank C region and 6 to 7 yen for Rank D region, and the weighted average out of the workers applied is 14 yen.
    We cannot help but say that the amounts to be raised have resulted in insufficient ones when we see the weighted average to be 14 yen and that of D Rank region to be 6 to 7 yen although it is now needed to raise the level of minimum wages in the midst of increasing the working poor.
  2. In the meanwhile, it is evaluated as have progressed in the point that the deliberation on the raises for this year had not been conducted merely along the line of the past practices, but the proposal of the Sub-Committee was made on the basis of an agreement reached in the Round-Table Conference for Promotion of Strategy for Raising Bottom of Growth Capacity.
  3. Workers’ members of the Sub-Committee laid stress, at its meetings, upon the proposal made by the Round-Table Conference for Promotion of Strategy for Raising Bottom of Growth Capacity that “raising the bottom of wages deliberated in the Round-Table Conference should be taken into account.” They also emphasized an agreement reached in the Round-Table Conference that “raising the bottom of wages of working people should be sought.”
    Workers’ members strongly asserted that (1) the reality that the increase of low income group and the expansion of disparity is not yet braked should be taken into account, (2) importance of the role of minimum wage as a safety net should be considered, (3) present level of minimum wages is far apart from that of real life, (4) it is necessary to raise minimum wages in large scale for raising the bottom of workers’ wages, and (5) the level of minimum wages to be sought should be about 50% of the initial wage of high school leavers or that of ordinary workers, which means more than 900 yen in hourly wage, or 850 yen when calculated from the lowest cost of life which JTUC-RENGO estimated. From these standpoints, the workers’ members insistently claimed that, in the mid-term prospect, it is necessary to raise minimum wages by about 50 yen for this year.
  4. On the other hand, the employers side claimed that it is not appropriate to raise the minimum wages in large scale for the reasons that (1) there are big imbalances among regions and industries, (2) the middle- and small-sized enterprises are in a severe situation, (3) the number of bankruptcies is increasing, and (4) it is necessary to fully consider the negative impact upon employment.
    The members of the public interests failed to show their view in the 3rd meeting of the Standard Setting Sub-Committee held on July 31st in a situation in which the difference of opinions between workers and employers is too big to reach an agreement. But at last they came to present their view by opening the 4th meeting of the Sub-Committee.
  5. Seeking to raise minimum wages to a liable level, JTUC-RENGO will strengthen its campaign for a drastic reform of minimum wages in which the importance is put on the level, taking account of the development of discussions in the Round-Table Conference as well as the revision of Minimum Wage law.