JILAF held a lecture meeting titled "The Labour Situation in Six Asian Countries, Centered on Multinational Companies" in Tokyo on December 1 with the participation of 42 persons, including government officials and labour experts.
First of all, speaking on behalf of JILAF, its Vice-President Yasuyuki Nodera said, "In the 20 years since the start of JILAF's Invitation Program, we have invited more than 2,200 junior union leaders from 126 countries and 3 territories. Many of them have gone on to leading positions in their countries including former Zambian President Frederick Chiluba and Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. As a new project, in the current fiscal year, we are inviting 'reinvitation teams' consisting of people who have been invited in the past and now occupy a certain position in their affiliated organizations. At this lecture meeting, the speakers will report on the labour situation in their own countries. I hope it will be a good opportunity for us to learn about the labour situation and the state of multinational companies in the participating countries."
The six participants then gave presentations as follows: Mr. Kranthi Kumar Vissa, District Head of the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), on "Specific Labour Disputes in Multinational Companies in India"; Mr. Roni Febrianto Bronotoatmodjo, Head of the Survey and Information Technology Department of the Federasi Serikat Peterja Metal Indonesia (FPSMI), on "The Labour Situation and Industrial Relations in Indonesia"; Mr. Samuel Devadasan Rajaratnam, Financial Secretary of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) on "Labour Disputes with Multinational Companies"; Mr. Mohammed Zahoor Awan, Deputy General Secretary of the Pakistan Workers' Federation (PWF), on "Multinational Companies and Labour in Pakistan"; Mr. Rafael Estoque Mapalo, Head of the Education Department of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), on "The State of Multinational Companies in the Philippines"; and Mr. John De Payva, President of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) of Singapore, on "Response to the Current Global Recession and the Labour Movement in Singapore."
In the lively question-and-answer session that followed, members of the audience asked about such issues as the background to the revised industrial relations law in Malaysia, which is harsh toward workers; taxation on external investment in India; the pros and cons of the formation of an industrial trade union in the electronics sector in Malaysia; and Singapore's response to the economic crisis.
Finally, in a closing address, JILAF Executive Director-General Yoshio Takahashi commented, "What I felt from the reports by the union leaders about the labour situation in their countries is that, as a consequence of the advance of globalization and new liberalism, multinational companies have gained strength. At the same time, while it is important to improve economic conditions and the rights and strength of workers, I see that we are not necessarily in that situation. In order to respond, I feel keenly once again the importance of trade unions having strength and uniting. JILAF has the function of gathering information on the labour situation and trade unions in other countries and will enhance its role as a pipeline between Japanese unions and unions in other countries."