Visit to the Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers’ Unions (JAW)
JILAF invited a total of nine labour union officials, including four women, from Japanese companies operating in four Asian countries－Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia—for various study sessions from June 4 through 13, 2017. This visit program was intended to deepen the understanding of labour-management relations, industrial practices, labour-related legislation, employment management, working conditions, and other issues in Japan as well as to establish basic human relations networks. The invitation of union personnel for such purposes was made for the first time in JILAF history.
There were lecture sessions in which the visitors learned the postwar labour union history of Japan, “spring labour offensive (shunto)” and other labour initiatives, the minimum wage system, labour-related legislation, and how to democratically manage a labor union. Working for labour unions of Japanese companies, all the participants were familiar with the industrial situation in Japan. While staying in Japan, they showed serious willingness to look for ways of making good use of Japan’s favorable industrial relations for labour initiatives in their own countries.
During the visit to the Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers’ Unions (JAW), they listened to the explanation of the outlines of the confederation as well as the roles to be played by industrial sector–based labour unions and specific initiatives to be taken, among other things. Some participants from automotive parts manufacturers demonstrated special interest, resulting in positive exchanges of Q-and-A’s concerning the actual conditions of nonregular employees in the automotive industry, the principle of equal pay for equal-value work, and other related points.
On June 9, an expanded-scale session, Exchange of Views on the Labour Situation, was held. Discussion was held on the theme “Industrial initiatives based on the principles of labour-management equality and autonomy,” focusing on individual labour unions. There were about 50 invited labour union representatives and employers of Japan. Invited participants reported their efforts in the areas of (i) improvement of corporate pension fund plans and reduction of medical expenses, (ii) organization of sports events and CSR activities, enhancement of welfare facilities, (iii) introduction of a union membership fee checkoff system, (iv) specific cases of job transfer efforts as countermeasures to worker reduction due to Thailand 4.0 (promotion of industry digitalization), and others.
There was a discussion session between the overseas union representatives and JILAF officials. JILAF requested that the visitors improve employment conditions by specifically clarifying to management the areas that the union could extend cooperation to management and those it could not. JILAF also added that, while a number of action plans for organizational enhancement were reported, it is important to strengthen the financial foundations for union management. On the other hand, the overseas participants presented a number of views and requests, saying that the visit was too short, and they would like to learn more from industrial relations in Japan.