JILAF invited a team from Vietnam and Cambodia to visit Japan from May 19 to June 1.
The team consisted of a total of 10 persons, five from the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) and five from the Cambodian Council of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-CC).
Although the two neighboring countries have different political regimes, both Vietnam and Cambodia are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and are aiming to achieve social and economic development as nations situated in the Mekong region. Furthermore, amid the advance of globalization, the role of trade unions in the two countries is becoming increasingly important, and they share many common issues.
In the lectures and visits in the first half of the program, interest focused on basic issues relating to trade unions and labour-management relations in Japan, such as methods of solving labour-management disputes and the process of deciding minimum wages. In addition, the participants from Cambodia in particular appeared to be looking for clues to the solution of Cambodia’s own problem of informal work in the efforts of the Japanese government and RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) to address the problem of nonregular work in Japan.
In the lecture by an industrial trade union federation, the participants heard an explanation from Koku Rengo (Japan Federation of Aviation Industry Unions) about its organizational structure and activities. One question from the participants asked whether Koku Rengo or RENGO engaged in negotiations with management in order to solve problems in single companies. Through such questions and answers, the participants were able to deepen their understanding of the actual activities of an industrial federation, the trade union setup in Japan, and other topics.
In the RENGO Oita program, specific and wide-ranging discussions took place with RENGO Oita executives on such issues as actual negotiations in the annual spring labour offensive and methods of expanding the organization. The participants also visited the Hello Work Oita public employment security office, where they received training and inspected services, and the Oita Works of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation, where they inspected the steel manufacturing plant involved in one of Japan’s leading core industries.
In the second half of the program, the participants heard lectures from the Japan Productivity Center on the need for the productivity movement and Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) on the importance of information sharing between labour and management. They also heard about workers’ mutual-aid schemes from the National Association of Labour Banks and Zenrosai (National Federation of Workers and Consumers Insurance Cooperatives). The participants showed especially great interest in the activities of cooperative organizations established through investment by workers.
On the final day of the program, the participants proposed individual action plans, which included “I want to promote wage-hike negotiations based on economic indicators and other data,” “I want to improve labour legislation so as to protect the rights of workers,” “I want to spread the productivity improvement movement in my own country as well,” and “In the future I want to establish systems like the labour banks and Zenrosai.”