JILAF invited 12 trade union leaders (including 6 women) from seven countries (Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, and Uruguay) to visit Japan from January 17 to 30, 2016. Although the participants spoke two languages, Portuguese and Spanish, they actively shared information on the domestic situation in their respective countries and their labour movement experiences, thus deepening their knowledge and solidarity. They engaged seriously in the training program and asked many questions in the lectures.
In the labour-related lectures, the participants learned about the postwar history of Japanese trade unions and the Japanese labour movement, including the spring labour struggle, as well as labour legislation and other topics, which are the premises for understanding the labour situation in Japan. In particular, they learned systematically about labour-related legislation in Japan, including the state of application of the basic rights of labour to public-sector and private-sector workers, deepening their understanding while drawing comparisons with conditions in their own countries.
In the visit to RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), they received a lecture on social security and deepened their understanding of the Japanese pension system and measures aimed at addressing related issues. Regarding the pension system in particular, they actively discussed such matters as the minimum pension benefit and the raising of the age at which pension benefits begin and made comparisons with the situation in their own countries.
In the industrial federation visit, they visited Joho Roren (Federation of Information and Communication Technology Service Workers of Japan), where they received an explanation of its organizational structure and activities. The participants enthusiastically discussed and asked questions about such issues as efforts to organize workers and the peace movement. Since their own countries are facing severe domestic conditions, such as civil war and political corruption, they showed an especially strong empathy with the efforts of the peace movement.
In discussions with RENGO Yamaguchi, the participants received an explanation of the activities of RENGO Yamaguchi, including regional economic development and the organization of workers. They asked questions about such matters as the different roles of the RENGO Headquarters and regional branches of RENGO, the problem of nonregular workers, and efforts to organize workers. In the workplace visit, they inspected manufacturing facilities for the Shinkansen superfast train at the Kasado Works of Hitachi, Ltd. In discussions with trade union officials there, they asked about such matters as the employment environment for women and social contribution activities. The participants also visited the Hello Work Yamaguchi public employment office, where they learned about its organizational structure and the mechanism of unemployment insurance, as well as actually experiencing searching for job vacancies on computers, and Yamaguchi Polytechnic Center, where they observed the studies of trainees aspiring to work in manufacturing jobs.
On the final day the participants proposed action plans in which they showed their determination to, among other things, make efforts to “build constructive industrial relations like Japan’s,” “realize employment security,” and “improve the social security system.” They also expressed their intention to disseminate what they had learned on this program to as many people as possible back home. JILAF hopes that the participants will be active after their return home and the training will have substantial ripple effects.