JILAF, together with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), held two industrial relations and labour policy seminars in China on June 6 and 8, the first in Beijing and the second in the city of Nanjing in Jiangsu Province. The seminar in Beijing was attended by 31 leaders of industrial trade union federations and others (of whom nine were women and one participant came from a union in a Japanese company operating locally). The seminar in Nanjing was attended by 24 people (of whom six were women and 11 participants came from unions in Japanese companies operating locally).
1. Seminar with the ACFTU (Beijing)
The seminar in Beijing on June 6 opened with addresses from representatives of the organizers, ACFTU Deputy President Jiang Hongping and JILAF President Hiroyuki Nagumo. After mentioning the cooperative relations between the ACFTU and JILAF that had been built up over about two decades, ACFTU Deputy President Jiang said that “I hope that this seminar gives us an opportunity to learn about the experience of industrial relations in Japan under a market economy” and that “I want us to fulfill the role of private-sector diplomacy.” JILAF President Nagumo commented, “While we recognize the importance of investment in the human resources necessary for sustained growth in an age of globalization, clarifying the issues that we face will contribute to the building of constructive industrial relations and sustainable growth. For this purpose, I hope that this seminar provides us with a good opportunity to learn from one another.”
These opening addresses were followed by lectures on the present state and issues of industrial relations. JILAF President Nagumo gave an outline of the legislative system supporting constructive industrial relations in Japan, the present state of industrial relations and issues in Japan, and the basic thinking and actual efforts of Japanese trade unions regarding constructive industrial relations. ACFTU International Liaison Department Manager An Jianhua then described the economic development of China so far and the current situation there and reported on the concept of “balanced development and industrial relations” and specific measures to be taken from now on. In the question-and-answer session, a question was asked about the impact of the activities of company-based trade unions in Japan on industrial relations in Japanese multinational corporations operating in China. Regarding the slowdown of growth in China, it was stated that a shift to growth emphasizing quality over quantity was important and that labour policy should focus on the training of human resources to create high added value and fair distribution.
In the next session, JILAF General Secretary Masayuki Shiota explained about the organizational structure and role of Japanese trade unions, the dispute settlement system in Japan, and in particular the functions and characteristics of Japan’s labour-management consultation system. A participant from a union organized in a Japanese company manufacturing electronic components then reported on the opinion integrating mechanism of unions and the labour-management dialogue system as democratic control arrangements and achievements in building schemes relating especially to skill improvement and health and welfare. In the following questions and answers and discussions, interest focused on the role of industrial trade unions in the mechanism for determining wages and working conditions in Japan (legislation, negotiations, etc.).
Next, group discussions were held on the themes of “the role of trade unions in preventing industrial disputes,” “issues relating to organizational expansion and strengthening and the response,” and “ideal labour agreements and the thinking behind them.” Among other things, it was pointed out that in order for China to achieve sustained growth, as well as eliminating domestic economic inequalities it was necessary for organization to cover internal rural-urban migrant workers as well and also to deal with the diversification of grievances and disputes brought about by the advancement of industry as a result of economic growth and the appearance of varied employment and work patterns.
The seminar ended with wrap-ups by JILAF President Nagumo, who noted that “The role of national centers and industrial trade union federations is to appeal not only to union members but also to communities and public opinion and to endeavor to achieve overall improvement,” and ACFTU International Liaison Department Manager An, who said that “The seminar has been extremely useful at a time when the advance of globalization and changes in the industrial structure are posing a new challenge for us to build balanced industrial relations.”
2. Seminar with the Jiangsu Province Federation of Trade Unions (Nanjing)
The seminar held in Nanjing on June 8 began with addresses by Jiangsu Province Federation of Trade Unions Deputy President Wang Aiping and JILAF President Nagumo. After praising the strong economic and cultural ties between Jiangsu Province and Japan, Deputy President Wang touched on the current situation surrounding trade unions and the direction of efforts, saying that “We aim to build win-win relations between labour and management through the pursuit of realistic profits and the solution of issues by means of dialogue.” In response, JILAF President Nagumo said that in order to achieve balanced social and economic development in Jiangsu Province, where there are many Japanese companies operating, “The soundness of industrial relations based on the workplace and the building of constructive industrial relations through strengthening of the labour movement are essential for equitable social and economic development. I hope that this seminar contributes to these goals.”
These addresses were followed by a lecture and case presentation. JILAF General Secretary Shiota explained about wage demands and negotiations, the labour-management consultation system, and the roles of trade unions at each level in Japan, after which a participant from a union in a Japanese company (a heavy electric machinery maker) gave a presentation on the theme of “positive dialogue and building balanced industrial relations together.”
The participants then divided into two groups for discussions on the theme of “the role of trade unions in preventing industrial disputes.” In the discussions, the participants made such comments as follows: “For the prevention of disputes, it is important to protect workers’ rights and interests”; “Although public arbitration bodies are involved in disputes, it is important for trade unions, which have a good knowledge of the workplace, to set about solving issues themselves”; and “At a time of low economic growth, the number of disputes is increasing. It is important for unions to organize opinions and to function as a bridge linking workers, the government, and companies.”
Finally, JILAF President Nagumo and ACFTU International Liaison Department Deputy Manager Li Xiaobo wrapped up the seminar. JILAF President Nagumo remarked, “In the present rapidly changing situation, both sides were able to recognize the need to respond to the diversification of contract and work patterns and individual values.” Deputy Manager Li commented, “The livelihoods of workers cannot be improved without the development of companies. We must encourage union officials to understand the management conditions of their companies and act accordingly.”
|06/17||Fri||Seminar with the ACFTU|
|06/18||Sat||Seminar with the Jiangsu Province Federation of Trade Unions|
|06/19||Sun||Discussions with the Suzhou City Federation of Trade Unions|