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2013年3月19日 (火)

国家公務員給与 55歳超の昇給抑制が必要だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 19, 2013)
Pay hikes for govt employees 55 or older must be curbed
国家公務員給与 55歳超の昇給抑制が必要だ(3月18日付・読売社説)

Another step forward has been made in resolving issues put off by the previous Democratic Party of Japan-led administration.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet has submitted a bill to the Diet to revise a law to drastically curb the pay hikes of central government employees aged 55 or older.

If the revised law is enacted, the new salary system will be put into force next January. About 33,000 people will be affected and the government's personnel expenses trimmed by an estimated 600 million yen a year.

The bill takes into account recommendations made by the National Personnel Authority in August.

Under the current system, salaries of central government employees rise every year until they reach the mandatory retirement age of 60.

The recommendation calls for annual pay hikes to be discontinued for those aged 55 or older and whose job performances are deemed average, while pay hikes would be permitted for those in the same age group with excellent job performances, although the margin of increase would be held down.

The salaries of many workers in the private sector decline when they reach the mid-50s.

This is because companies transfer workers in that age group to affiliated companies or have a mandatory age for managers to step down from their posts. It is therefore appropriate to have the salaries of government employees fall more in line with those at private companies.


Rehiring workers

Continued employment of workers who reach the manadatory retirement age of 60 should also be considered as they will not receive benefits from the state-run pension plan until they reach the age of 65.

The government plans to make it obligatory to rehire employees who reach the mandatory retirement age and are willing to continue working. However, the fiscal situation remains dismal.

To reduce personnel expenses as much as possible, it is essential to hold down the salaries for those in their 50s.

Both the ruling and opposition parties must pass the revised bill as quickly as possible.

The DPJ is to blame for wasting so much time before the bill could be submitted.

The Cabinet under then Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda failed to act on the authority's recommendation for three months, deciding only to postpone the recommended restrictions on the annual pay hike on Nov. 16, the day he dissolved the House of Representatives.

In announcing the decision, Noda said the government had already taken "a harsh pay-cutting measure" by lowering government employees' salaries by 7.8 percent on average, so it could use the saved funds for post-disaster reconstruction.

However, the real reason is that the government submitted to the Diet a bill related to reforming the national public employees system, which we think stopped the administration from dealing with the recommended curbs.


Working with unions

The main feature of the new bill gives central government employees the right to conclude an agreement with the government, a basic legal labor right.

The bill includes the idea that issues such as pay levels can be decided through labor-management talks, and the National Personnel Authority can be abolished. Because of this, the Noda administration probably decided to ignore the authority's recommendations.

How will the DPJ deal with the bill to revise the salaries of central government employees in the days ahead?

The bill is in line with the DPJ's manifesto when it comes to cutting the central government's personnel expenses. As it will also affect the wages of local government employees, however, it will be difficult for DPJ legislators supported by the All Japan Prefectural and Municipal Workers' Union and other labor groups to support the bill.

The Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), a key support organization for the DPJ, has opposed the Abe Cabinet's request for the salaries of local government employees to be lowered, in line with those of central government employees, in fiscal 2013.

The DPJ's dependency on labor unions will be tested once again over how the party responds to the bill to revise the salaries of central government employees.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 18, 2013)
(2013年3月18日01時29分  読売新聞)


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