JILAF invited a total of five persons (including two women) from Israel, Switzerland, and the United States to visit Japan from September 25 to October 1, 2016. Unlike usual invitation teams, the aims of this team were to promote stable business transactions between developed countries and Japanese companies and businesses and stable employment through economic collaboration and the expansion of investment in Japan. In particular, the participants showed much interest in an international symposium held in the second half of the program on the theme of “The Present State of Nonregular Workers and Other Forms of Unstable Employment and Efforts toward Correction.”
In a labour-related lecture titled “The Present State of Employment and Labour in Japan and Issues,” the focus was placed on problems facing Japanese workers, such as nonregular employment, the expansion of inequalities, and long working hours, and the efforts of trade unions to address them. The invited participants asked various questions about such matters as the mechanism of determining minimum wages, the employment of elderly people, and involvement of the government in labour-management negotiations.
In their visit to the RENGO Research Institute for Advancement of Living Standards (RENGO-RIALS), the participants heard a report on a survey about the work styles and attitudes of nonregular workers conducted by the institute in 2014 and 2015 and asked questions about such issues as the reasons why voluntary nonregular workers opt for that employment status and whether or not surveys were made of the management side, thereby deepening their knowledge about the present state of nonregular workers in Japan.
In their visit to RENGO (Japan Trade Union Confederation), after a welcome address by RENGO General Secretary Naoto Ohmi, the participants heard lectures about “The Efforts of the RENGO Center for Nonregular Workers” and “RENGO’s Policy and Efforts Relating to Nonregular Workers.” They asked many questions and stated their opinions concerning such issues as nonregular workers in Japan and application of the minimum wage and the legal protection of dispatch workers.
In their industrial federation visit, the participants visited UA Zensen (Japanese Federation of Textile, Chemical, Food, Commercial, Service and General Workers’ Unions), where they received an explanation of efforts to address the issue of nonregular workers in the wholesale, retail, food, and service sectors and other matters. Making comparisons with the situation in their own countries, the participants asked questions about how labour agreements were made in companies that have outlets nationwide, the organization ratio in different industries, and so on, thereby deepening their knowledge about the present state of nonregular workers and industrial federation efforts.
The international symposium on the theme of “The Present State of Nonregular Workers and Other Forms of Unstable Employment and Efforts toward Correction” was attended by 68 persons (37 trade unionists, 5 government officials, 5 company representatives, 5 media representatives, and 16 JILAF personnel). The participants delivered country reports and also took part as panelists, with all of them actively making statements.
The discussions with JILAF directors covered such topics as the treatment of part-time workers, the increasing number of nonregular workers in the public sector, minimum wages, and measures relating to migrant workers. The JILAF directors explained the situation in Japan, thereby helping the participants to raise their understanding.