Major Japanese Ports Closed For 24 Hours By National Zenkowan Dockworkers Strike

Japanese Major Ports Closed For 24 Hours By National Zenkowan Dockworkers Strike
Yokohama, Japan
By Steve Zeltzer
KPFA WorkWeek, Labornet

On March 23, 2014 for the first time in 6 years, a national dockworkers strike hit major Japanese ports including Yokohama, Osaka, Kobe and Nagoya. The 24 hour strike by All Japan Dockworkers Union (Zenkowan) was to struggle against the shipping company demands that they give up industry bargaining and also for real wage increases.
Japanese dockworkers like most workers have had a loss of income over the past five years. Despite shipping company profits, the companies want to increase profits by weakening the industry wide bargaining and move to “enterprise” bargaining company by company.
For many younger workers, this was the first strike since being on the waterfront. According to Zenkowan president Akinobu Itoh, the union has been successful in fighting to make 70% of the members permanent workers instead of remaining as temporary part time workers. In Japan like Korea and other countries around the world part time or casual workers now make up a significant part of the workforce. Over 40% of the workers in Japan are now temporary and this is increasing as most are not in unions. In Korea over 50% of the workers are now temporary.
The strike in the port of Yokohama which has 5,000 dockworkers was 100% effective as ships backed in the Yokohama bay.
The union is also planning to have another strike in April if the management refuses to back down from their concession demands.
In Japan there is shunto spring offensive every year for contract and wage gains and workers in Japan are growing angry about their worsening conditions.
Liberal Democratic President Abe who is pushing militarization and restarting Japan’s 50 nuclear plants has also called on major companies to increase wages to increase consumer spending but this is not taken seriously by most unions. While cutting social services, healthcare and pensions, the Abe government is raising the regressive sales tax 3% more further hitting the income of working people.
Zenkowan is also against the expansion of militarization and is for the abolishment of the Japan US Security Agreement (AMPO). For more information on the union go to