The National Personnel Authority on Aug. 8 recommended that the wage levels — monthly wages and bonuses — of national public servants for fiscal 2012 should remain as they are. The authority will need to fully explain why it reached this conclusion, since its attitude this year toward the wage levels appears to be different from last year.

Apart from the wage levels for fiscal 2012, the government and the Diet need to have thorough discussions on a reasonable system to determine the wage levels and other working conditions of national public servants.

The Democratic Party of Japan government already cut the wage levels by an average 7.8 percent from April, the start of fiscal 2012, under an extraordinary law. The wage cut is for fiscal 2012 and 2013 ostensibly to raise funds for the reconstruction of areas devastated by the 3/11 disasters.

Before the wage cut, the average monthly wage for national public servants was ¥401,789. That is ¥273 or 0.07 percent above the average monthly wage in the private sector. Since the wage cut, national public servants get an average ¥372,906 a month, ¥28,610 or 7.67 percent less than private sector workers. Bonuses for national public servants are worth 3.95 months’ wages and those for private sector workers are worth 3.94 months’ wages.

In view of these factors, the authority said there was no need to raise or lower the wage levels for central government workers. But this attitude contrasts with the authority’s attitude last year.

Although the authority last year called for a 0.23 percent reduction in the monthly wages of those workers, it expressed strong concern over the extraordinary law to reduce their wages by an average 7.8 percent, on the grounds that such a large reduction would nullify the role of the authority to recommend wage levels for national public servants. The authority targets the wage levels to those of the private sector to compensate for the absence of the right of central government workers to negotiate their wage levels. But this year, the authority did not express objections to the 7.8 percent wage cut. It needs to fully explain what is behind this discrepancy.

There is a view within the ruling DPJ that the 7.8 percent wage cut should continue into fiscal 2014 and beyond. Coupled with the DPJ government’s decision to reduce the number of recruits of central government ministries and agencies for fiscal 2013 by an average of about 70 percent, such a call will surely affect the morale of national public servants and government administrative services.

Meanwhile, the government has submitted a bill to give central government workers the right to negotiate collective labor agreement. But the personnel authority is worried that no wide and informed discussions have been made on this intricate matter.

It raised a question: How can public servants and the government reach financially tenable conclusions through negotiations when both parties are not exposed to market forces? The government and the Diet need to carefully discuss the matter.

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