JILAF invited 10 trade union leaders (including 5 women) from eight English-speaking African countries (Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) to visit Japan from October 18 to 31, 2015.
At the lectures and places visited, the participants each confirmed their own problem awareness and asked various questions about such topics as industrial relations, employment policy, and labour legislation in Japan. They shared a common recognition that the “main cause of poverty lies in exploitation by the major developed countries and employers” but gave serious consideration to the question of how fair distribution could be achieved, empathizing strongly with the idea of achieving the “fair distribution of corporate profits by contributing to productivity improvement.” In addition, perhaps because some of their countries face problems relating to political corruption and so on, the participants showed much interest in the involvement of trade unions in politics.
In the visit to RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), regarding gender equality policy, they learned about RENGO’s campaigns and measures to prohibit sexual discrimination in the field of employment and realize a gender-equal society. The participants called on RENGO to take the initiative and broaden its campaign to increase women’s social participation ratio in Japan.
In the industrial federation visit, the participants visited Denryoku Soren (Federation of Electric Power Related Industry Workers Unions of Japan), where they gained an understanding of the electric power industry in Japan and the organizational structure of Denryoku Soren. They also received an explanation of reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake and the disaster’s impact on employment and energy policies. In addition, their interest focused on the political involvement of Denryoku Soren, which deploys its own in-house legislators.
At RENGO Shimane, the participants received an explanation of RENGO Shimane’s priority activities, including regional economic development and the organization of workers, and they asked questions about such issues as the division of roles between the RENGO Headquarters and regional branches of RENGO, the employment and working conditions of nonregular workers, and the activities of RENGO Shimane’s Youth and Women’s Committee. Furthermore, they visited the Shimane prefectural branch of UA Zensen (Japanese Federation of Textile, Chemical, Food, Commercial, Service and General Workers’ Unions), where they discussed, among other things, specific means of expanding organization.
The participants also visited the Yasugi Plant of Hitachi Metals, Ltd. in Yasugi City, where they inspected the steel material manufacturing process, observed how productivity activities are being practiced on the shop floor, and engaged in discussions with representatives of labour and management at the plant, asking questions about technical training and safety education.
In addition, the participants visited the Hello Work Shimane public employment office, where they learned about such issues as unemployment measures and the mechanism of employment insurance and then actually experienced using the job-vacancy search terminals.
On the final day the participants compiled action plan proposals in which they expressed their determination to endeavor to “build constructive industrial relations,” “introduce the labour-management consultation system,” and “improve the social security system.”