Support our mission

TOKYO — The labor union for Japanese base workers and the Japan government on Tuesday reached a pay-cut agreement, the union said.

Because of the agreement, the union canceled strikes that were to be held Wednesday through Friday at Japan and Okinawa bases to protest the government’s plan to abolish the workers’ allowances, which make up about 10 percent of their monthly paychecks.

The union and Ministry of Defense agreed to abolish allowances beginning April 1, with certain stipulations, said Tsuneo Teruya, secretary-general of Zenchuro headquarters in Tokyo.

The allowances include the 10 percent U.S. Forces Japan differential, which is compensation for working in a different cultural environment. Some workers also will lose language allowances, which are paid to qualified workers who use English on their jobs, according to a ministry news release. The agreement also cuts retirement allowances that exceed those of Japanese government civil service employees, it stated.

The agreement includes transitional measures since the allowances have become “subsistence pay and part of life planning” of the workers, according to a defense ministry news release.

Under those measures, the workers will receive 50 percent of the sum of USFJ differential and language allowances for the next five years, the ministry said. The two sides will work on a revision when the five years are up, but the workers are guaranteed the current levels of their monthly pay, including the allowances.

“It was an agonizing choice,” Teruya said.

The union isn’t fully satisfied with the result but believes it’s the only common ground that can be reached right now, it said in a statement.

The defense ministry will make adjustments with USFJ to revise the contract that provides a base labor force, the release stated.

USFJ did not offer an immediate reaction to the settlement when contacted late Tuesday afternoon. A spokesman last week said the U.S. military was not a party to the negotiations but remained hopeful for a quick resolution.

“The U.S. government deeply appreciates the contributions of our Japanese employees,” said Air Force Col. Eric Schnaible.

The union and defense ministry have been negotiating since the issue was proposed in October. Japan employs the workers and provides the work force to the U.S. military as part of an agreement between the two governments.

The union conducted a four-hour strike Nov. 21 and an all-day walkout Nov. 30, when members picketed at 90 gates in Japan and Okinawa.

As of September, 25,530 Japanese were employed at 55 U.S. military installations throughout the country.

About 16,600 of them, or roughly 65 percent, belong to Zenchuro, according to the union.

twitter Email

Stripes in 7

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up