Vol.37-No.08 August 1,1998
The Ministry of Labour released findings from a survey on labor-management communication. The survey asked about collective bargaining, joint consultations and grievance procedures duirng a three-year period from July 1, 1994. Once every five years, the ministry sends questionnaires to private-sector unions with 30 members or more to provide information on collective bargaining and labor disputes. Five findings of the 1997 survey are of interest.
First, during the three-year period 86.4 percent of the unions had held talks with management concerning working hours; 81.4 percent had discussed wages with management; and 77.4 percent had exchanged views concerning employment and personnel matters.
Second, 59.8 percent of the unions bargained collectively with management on wages while dealing with working hours either at the bargaining table or through some form of joint consultations. As for employment and personnel matters, many unions dealt with management through joint consultation. The highest percentage of the unions held talks on wages at the bargaining table, but the percentage doing so decreased by 7.4 percent from 67.2 percent recorded in the previous survey in 1992. The percentage of the unions utilizing some form of joint consultation to resolve wage issues with management rose by 6.6 percent from 34 percent to 40.6 percent. It is safe to say from this that the avenue for negotiations on wages has shifted some from collective bargaining toward joint consultations.
Third, 78.1 percent of the unions have a joint consultative body; 85.6 percent of those unions distinguish between matters dealt with through joint consultations and those dealt with at the bargaining table.
Fourth, as a means of solving problems involving labor and management, 50.5 percent of the unions emphasized joint consultation while 41.6 percent emphasized collective bargaining. Just under one percent emphasized labor disputes. One might therefore surmise that Japanese unions will continue to rely on talks with management rather than on labor disputes to resolve their differences with management.
Fifth, eight percent of the unions surveyed had engaged in a labor dispute during the three-year period, down from the 10 percent recorded in the 1992 survey. Wages was the matter most frequently dealt with in labor disputes. The percentage of unions involved in a labor dispute was 13.7 percent in the services industries; 11.4 percent in real estate; 8.5 percent in manufacturing; and 7.9 percent in transport and telecommunications. The size of the union seemed to be inversely correlated to the likelihood of having a dispute.
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