Visit to RENGO Kanagawa
JILAF invited a total of 14 persons (including 6 women) from organizations in three countries (the Malaysian Trades Union Congress [MTUC], Pakistan Workers’ Federation [PWF], and Trade Union Congress of the Philippines [TUCP]) to visit Japan from December 4 to 17.
In labour-related lectures, the participants learned about such topics as the postwar history of trade unions in Japan and the Japanese labour movement, including the annual spring labour struggle, as well as the minimum wage system, labour legislation, and democratic trade union management. In a visit to RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), they received lectures about Japan’s social security system and RENGO’s efforts and asked many questions about the burden of the social security system.
As an industrial federation visit, the participants visited Jidosha Soren (Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers’ Unions), where they heard lectures on the history of industrial relations in Japan and Jidosha Soren’s international activities. The participants learned about the involvement of Jidosha Soren in the annual spring labour struggle and the role and activities of an industrial federation of trade unions.
In the Exchange of Views on Labour Situation meeting, the participants reported on the labour situation and issues in their respective countries. All three countries reported that (1) trade unions face the issue of how to include and support the growing number of informal-sector workers; (2) there is a dependence on foreign workers in the labour market; (3) although many conventions have been ratified, including the core labour standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO), appropriate compliance is not being realized; and (4) although certain employment improvements are making headway in the labour market, the domestic job absorption structure remains undeniably frail.
In the regional RENGO branch program, the participants visited the Kanagawa Prefecture headquarters of Zenrosai (National Federation of Workers and Consumers Insurance Cooperatives), where they learned about the history of workers’ mutual-aid insurance in Japan and the regional situation. They also visited RENGO Kanagawa, where they discussed such issues as consultations received by RENGO and specific measures for foreign workers. In addition, the participants visited Hello Work Yokohama, the Kanagawa Prefecture Eastern District General Vocational and Technical College, the Kawai Water Purification Plant, and then the Japan Productivity Center and National Association of Labour Banks.
In discussions with JILAF directors, advice was given and questions and proposals made to raise the participants’ understanding of such issues as the importance of promoting gender equality, the style of opinion exchange meetings and discussions in regional branches of RENGO, the establishment of opportunities to exchange opinions with union members in the workplace, and the necessity of interactive lectures and discussions.
The action plans proposed by the participants included the following:---“I want to conduct attitude surveys on such matters as improvement of the workplace environment and wages and then hold a dialogue forum between labour and management.”
“At the time of revision of labour agreements, I want to identify the current problems and hold proper discussions on the content.”
“I want to promote organization over the next three years. In cooperation with domestic and overseas organizations, I want to start implementing activities to protect the rights of workers by February 2017.”
“I want to publicize the fact that workers engaged in the public sector have rights recognized by law. I also want to conduct activities to erase the poor image of unions.”
“I want to conduct activities for the realization of a gender-equal society.”