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Union workers reject government pay cut plan

Date Posted: 2007-10-29

Japanese working on American military bases have warned government officials they’ll go on strike for the first time in 16 years if a plan to cut their pay is implemented.
All 100% of the Workers Union members agreed Saturday to walk off the job if the Ministry of Defense presses forward with a proposal to slash their pay and bonuses by ¥10 billion. The ministry announced last week it would reduce its payroll and funds used to finance American military support, local nationals’ salaries by up to 10%.
The Union members met at Chatan Town Sunset Mihama, where they agreed to tell the government to leave things alone, and not make any cuts. Kazuo Yamakawa, who had met earlier with the Defense Ministry to tell them “we can’t listen to your opinion right now”, says another meeting is set for Friday. Yamakawa, the workers union chairman, says the workers have until November 20th to agree to the union demands, or face a strike.
Yamakawa says the Union would stage limited strikes, perhaps a half-day at a time. A union director asked “What does the Self Defense Ministry think about our life? Cutting salaries means we destroy our life.” He said that’s what the ministry wants, and added “No, we will never accept a cut in salary.”
The US Defense Secretary Robert Gates will be briefed on the proposal next month when he visits Japan to meet with Shigeru Ishiba, Japan’s Minister of Self Defense. This year’s budget of ¥217.3 billion, says Okinawa Prefecture, is largely strapped with heavy labor costs.
The Zenchuro, the workers union, says it will poll members between November 8th ~ 14th to hear their opinions, then publish the results on November 19th. If more than half are in favor of a strike, the union says it will go ahead. It noted, though, that senior workers will be consulted for advice, since it’s been so long since any strikes.

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