The Ministry of Labour conducts its Basic Survey on Trade Unions each year, gathering information on all labor unions as of June 30. The survey is designed to ascertain the current state of the union movement in terms of its membership by industry, company size, major organizational affiliation, and so on. According to the 1999 Survey, there were 11.825 million union members, 268,000 (2.2%) fewer than on June 30, 1998. This was the fifth successive annual decline in union membership. The estimated unionization rate was 22.2 percent, down from 22.4 percent the year before.
Trends in union membership by industry showed that membership dropped in all sectors. The declines were particularly sharp in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries (down by 1,000 members or 5.6 percentage points); in financing, insurance, and real estate (down by 43,000 members or 4.3 percentage points); in manufacturing (down by about 111,000 or 3.0 percentage points); and in wholesale, retailing, and food and drink establishments (down about 34,000 members or 3.0 percentage points).
In terms of company size, membership declined in every group compared with the previous year. A particularly sharp drop was seen in companies with 30-99 employees (down 3.6 percentage points). This was followed by companies with 100-299 employees (down by 3.5 percentage points), those with 1,000 or more employees (down 3.0 percentage points), and those with 300-999 or with fewer than 30 employees (down by 2.3 percentage points).
Meanwhile, union membership among part-time workers edged up by 1.7 percentage points to 244,000. Part-time employees now account for 2.1 percent of union membership, up 0.1 percentage point from the previous year.
In terms of the peak organizations, 63.3 percent of union members were affiliated with Rengo (Japanese Trade Union Confederation); nine percent with Zenroren (National Confederation of Trade Unions); and 2.3 percent with Zenrokyo (National Trade Union Council). The proportion of members belonging to other bodies was 21.8 percent. Neutral labor unions which did not belong to any larger union associations accounted for 8.8 percent of all union members (Some members belonged to two or more unions, hence the sum of the percentages given is 105.2%, exceeding 100%).
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