Visit to RENGO
JILAF invited a total of 12 persons (including 5 women) from China and Thailand to visit Japan from October 2 to 15. Although these two countries have differing bases, the participants shared a common desire to explore how they can arrange the essence of industrial relations in Japan, which has achieved economic growth, in their own countries and were extremely serious and sincere in their approach to the program. Since the participants included members who had attended industrial relations and labour policy seminars, one of JILAF’s field projects, and officials of trade unions in Japanese companies and businesses, they showed much interest in efforts to build constructive industrial relations and realize employment stability.
In the first half of the program, the participants received lectures from JILAF on problem awareness as trade union leaders, the role and issues of the Japanese trade union movement, and social and labour legislation in Japan. In their visit to RENGO (Japan Trade Union Confederation), they heard from the Department of Organizing about RENGO’s efforts as a national center and liaison with regional branches of RENGO and industrial labour federations and enthusiastically asked questions about efforts to realize a 100-million-strong RENGO and the background.
In their visit to the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, they received lectures on employment and work styles and the role of labour administration. In their visit to an industrial federation, they visited Service Rengo (Japan Federation of Service and Tourism Industries Workers’ Unions), where they learned about the organization’s structure and activities, the issues that it currently faces, and its activities toward their solution.
Next they heard a lecture from JILAF on the resolution of industrial disputes and asking lively questions about such matters as the increase in the number of individual industrial disputes and their content and the features of the tripartite resolution system. In a labour-related lecture on labour legislation, they learned systematically about Japan’s labour legislation system, including the state of application of the basic rights of workers in the public and private sectors. Furthermore, while comparing the situation with that in their own countries, they promoted their understanding of social security issues in Japan, which is facing an aging society with a low birthrate.
In the Exchange of Views on Labour Situation meeting, the participants reported on the labour situation and issues in their countries. In particular, the Chinese side noted that an issue in China at present is the protection of workers following supply-demand adjustments in oversupply industries (steel and coal), adding that efforts are being made to change the industrial structure, including vocational skill development for workers. The Thai side, meanwhile, reported on the present state of the growing number of informal-sector workers in Thailand and the issue of organization.
In a lecture on the democratic management of trade unions, attention was drawn to the importance of maintaining management through union dues and on democratic procedures in order to ensure independence from employers and the government. The lively question-and-answer session also covered the origins of labour legislation in China and Thailand and the history and transformation of international labour law.
On the first day of the RENGO Kochi program, the participants inspected Hello Work Kochi and Kochi Polytechnic Center, where they saw how its original curriculum, which includes courses for women only and financial and accounting courses, reflects local conditions. In discussions with RENGO Kochi, they received explanations about the organization’s structure, regional characteristics, and its main activities toward regional development. In the workplace visit, they went to the Hariki Water Purification Plant, where they observed the environment-friendly and high-tech facility and asked questions about the safe management of water quality and the setting of rates.
At the Japan Productivity Center the participants received lectures on such topics as the three guiding principles of productivity and Japanese-style industrial relations. In a lecture by Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) they heard about the importance of good and constructive industrial relations. And in a visit to Zenrosai Kyokai (National Association for Workers’ Welfare and Cooperative Insurance), they heard about the history of the business, its principles, and front-line activities and asked lively questions about the background to its founding, the merits in comparison with commercial insurance, and so on.
When the entire program had been completed, the participants proposed action plans, which included the following:
---Study of a program (“bridging plan”) with reference to JILAF’s invitation program
---Revision of human resource development system for young trade union members and trade union executives
---Contest plan relating to productivity improvement, promotion of the productivity movement, etc.
---Sharing of information about Japan’s labour legislation, labour-management practices, constructive industrial relations, etc. in the workplace
---Introduction of the three guiding principles of productivity