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Interview: Rengo chief sees pay hikes as key to economic recovery

  • February 4, 2022
  • , Jiji Press , 10:30 a.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, Feb. 4 (Jiji Press)–Wage increases hold the key to the economic recovery, Tomoko Yoshino, president of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo, has said in a recent interview.
   

Japanese companies “should shift to future-oriented pay hikes as a way to actively invest in human resources all the more because we now have concerns amid the novel coronavirus crisis,” Yoshino said.
   

All member unions of Rengo, the umbrella organization of labor unions in Japan, stress the primacy of monthly salaries and have decided to seek pay hikes in this year’s “shunto” labor-management negotiations, which are set to get into full gear in mid-February, she said.
   

Rengo has decided a policy of demanding a pay scale hike of about 2 pct and an overall pay increase of about 4 pct, including regular wage hikes.
   

Yoshino said that current price rises in Japan are starting to have a “major impact” on people’s daily lives, warning that the economic recovery could be delayed further if the pace of pay growth falls behind that of rising prices. “We need to realize wage hikes in order to shore up consumption and start a virtuous economic cycle,” she said.
   

“There will be no progress (in correcting pay gaps) unless labor unions make demands (to) and negotiate (with the management side),” Yoshino said.
   

“The (pay) gaps between genders and reflecting company size and employment status cannot be rectified significantly in a single round of negotiations,” Yoshino said, underscoring the importance of each union checking its own circumstances regarding wages and fully sharing the issues and holding talks with management.
   

Yoshino also said that Rengo is eager to call on the government to help ensure that prices of transactions between large and smaller companies are set at appropriate levels to make it easier for the smaller businesses to raise wages.
   

With attention to labor unions now greater than any other time of year, Rengo is ramping up its efforts to have society recognize the importance of the labor side forming unions to deal with management on an equal footing and spreading such labor-management relations.
   

“We want corporate leaders to understand what unionized workers at their companies are thinking and how they are feeling, and to thoroughly listen to the voices of workers,” she added.

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