JILAF invited 10 people from Bangladesh and Nepal (including 4 women) to visit Japan from July 24 to August 6. All of the programs were carried out according to schedule. In the delegations from both countries, the women leaders took the initiative and contributed to the smooth execution of the programs and active participation in the lectures.
In the lectures, the participants asked many questions to confirm their understanding of the content, showing their sincere approach toward understanding what they were being told. In particular, the participants declared their intention to share success stories in Japan and what they learned in the program with related people back home, saying that they wanted to use the Japanese labour movement as a role model in their future activities. It is hoped that the participants will engage in effective activities after returning to their own countries.
In the first half of the program, lectures were held on arousing the problem awareness of the participants as trade union leaders, the role and issues of the Japanese trade union movement, and Japan’s social and labour-related legislation.
In the visit to RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), the participants listened to a lecture from the Working Conditions/Small Enterprise Workers Division about RENGO’s efforts relating to the minimum wage, deepening their knowledge of such topics as RENGO’s activities as a national center, the history of Japan’s minimum wage system, the characteristics of its legislative system, and issues.
For the industrial federation lectures, the participants visited Jichiro (All-Japan Prefectural and Municipal Workers Union) and UA Zensen (Japanese Federation of Textile, Chemical, Food, Commercial, Service and General Workers’ Unions), where they received explanations of the organizations’ structures and activities, issues currently being faced, and efforts as industrial federations toward the solution of these issues. In particular, the participants heard explanations, including examples of specific success stories, and asked questions about the involvement of trade unions in organization and politics and the importance of labour-management equality and autonomy. Thus, they got an idea of the role of an industrial federation, including its relations with RENGO and with company-based unions.
In the Exchange of Views on Labour Situation meeting, the participants reported on the labour situation and issues in their own countries. In particular, the report from Bangladesh noted that the six national centers in that country had held a meeting on July 19–20 of this year with a view to integration.
In the regional RENGO program, on the first day the participants visited the Tagajo Training Institute of the Miyagi Polytechnic Center. In the workplace visit, they inspected the automobile manufacturing line at the Miyagi Ohira Plant of Toyota Motor East Japan, Inc., where they were very impressed by the clean and orderly working environment and efforts to improve productivity. Participants commented that they would definitely convey what they had seen and heard at the plant in their own countries. In the discussions with RENGO Miyagi, the participants heard explanations of the organization’s structure and role and its main activities, including support for areas hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake. They also discussed examples of labour consultations, the personnel composition of RENGO Miyagi, its methods of selecting personnel, and other issues.
The following day the participants visited the Hello Work Sendai public employment office, where they heard about such topics as conditions in the jurisdictional area, the office’s business, and the job situation for foreign workers and then, after inspecting the facility, actually searched for job vacancies by computer. In their visit to the prefectural government office, they inspected the information corner relating to reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake, heard an explanation about the progress of reconstruction projects, and also paid a courtesy visit to Miyagi Prefecture Vice-Governor Yoshiteru Yamada to promote friendly exchange. In addition, in discussions with members of the Miyagi Prefectural Assembly, they asked questions mainly about such matters as promotion of the activities of women and correction of the gender gap.
At the Japan Productivity Center, the participants received a talk on such topics as the three principles of productivity, Japanese-style industrial relations, and future issues. They asked questions about such matters as responses at the time of surplus labour due to rationalization and the labour-management consultation system, once again deepening their understanding of the contribution of Japanese trade unions to productivity improvement.
In the lecture by Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), the participants heard an explanation of industrial relations as seen by an employers’ organization and asked questions about such matters as the method of determining special allowance levels, promotion of the activities of women, and dismissal conditions.
In the visit to the National Association of Labour Banks, the participants heard an explanation of the business’s history, principles, and front-line activities and deepened their understanding of the duties and role of a mutual-aid organization for workers.
After the program activities had been completed, the participants proposed the following action plans:
(1) Hold a government-labour-management seminar to share information about Japan’s labour-related legislation, labour-management practices, constructive industrial relations, etc.
(2) Build good industrial relations by increasing daily communication opportunities between labour and management.
(3) Make proposals to the Ministry of Labour, etc. concerning the establishment of employment support bodies like Japan’s Hello Work and Polytechnic Center facilities.
(4) Explain Japan’s productivity movement to related persons and introduce the three principles of productivity.
(5) Publicize Japan’s labour bank and insurance cooperative schemes and promote the introduction of a mutual-aid system by trade unions.