KOGA Speaks! RENGO's Statement by General Secretary

KOGA Speaks!
On the Standards of the Raise of the FY2009 Regional Minimum Wages

28 July 2009
Nobuaki Koga, General Secretary
Japanese Trade Union Confederation (JTUC-RENGO)
  1. On July 27, the Subcommittee on the Standards of the Central Minimum WagesCouncil (Chairperson: Professor Koichiro IMANO, Gakushuin University)drew up the revision plan of the standards of the FY2009 regional minimumwages and is to report the results to the meeting of the Central MinimumWages Council to be held on July 29. As to the standard amount of theregional minimum wages for the current fiscal year, the Subcommitteeconcluded that, on the base of the current economic, business, employmentand other developments, it is appropriate not to show any standard of theamount of the raises, basically keeping the current levels, for those 35prefectures where there is no gap in the amount between livelihood protectionbenefits and standard minimum wages.
    On the other, as to the other 12 prefectures including Tokyo, Hokkaido,Osaka and Kyoto where there are gaps between livelihood protection benefitsand standard minimum wages, the amount of each minimum wage should be,in principle, that obtained by dividing by the number of years addedby one year (two years, three years or five years) to the number of yearsdeducted by one year from the number of remaining years set last yearto be expected to dissolve the gaps. Meanwhile, as to the three prefectureswhere the gap was newly brought about, the Subcommittee concluded thatit is appropriate to set the number of years needed to dissolve the gap tobe, in principle, two years or less, but in the case that the influence uponregional economy and employment is envisaged, the number of years shouldbe three years or less, and that the amount should be that obtained bydividing by those numbers. As a result, the weighted average for the workerscovered by minimum wages became 7 yen to 9 yen. The contents are not satisfactoryby any means for RENGO, but we cannot but respond to them as the resultsbrought about after hard discussions conducted under severe situation.

  2. When this year’s minimum wages were deliberated, the workers’ side focusedits argument on: 1) that during economic expansion period after 2002,while the achievements of the growth were not sufficiently distributedto the workers, the livelihood of the workers remained in severe conditions;2) that it is necessary to put on the brakes on the falling- down ofprivate consumption in order to secure the stability and security of thelife of working people; 3) that it is necessary and essential to guarantee“ a livable wage level” as a national minimum and; 4) that it is an urgentnecessity to establish effective minimum wages which will lead to the raiseof wage levels.

    On the other hand, the employers’ side argued 1) that in avery severe situation occurring once in one hundred years as it is indeedcalled, it is difficult to make a deliberation on the assumption that“minimum wages should be raised”; 2) that there should be careful discussionson the base of the research results of wage revision situation whichhas hit a record low of the worst ever of the wage increase rate and 3) that,as to the dissolution of the deviation from the livelihood protectionlevels, the amount of the deviation is so substantially expanding that areview on the way to resolve the deviation determined last year cannot beavoided. The gap of views between the workers’ side and employers’ side progressedwithout narrowing and the discussion came to an end.

  3. RENGO, with the contentsof the report, will maintain close contacts with RENGO Locals so thatthe results of the report are to be connected with the discussions in theRegional Deliberating Councils so as to draw out the best possible results.