JILAF invited a total of 11 persons from four South American countries to visit Japan from January 19 to February 1.The participants in the two-language program consisted of five persons from Portuguese-speaking Brazil and six persons from Spanish-speaking Chile, Colombia, and Venezuela. All of the participants were cheerful and outgoing, and communication among them was very lively as well. At the lectures and places visited, they all positively asked many questions and earnestly studied about Japan’s constructive industrial relations and other topics.
In the lectures and visits in the first half of the program, wide-ranging questions and opinions were put forth on such issues as the thinking behind seniority-based wages, the disadvantageous treatment of trade union officials, reasons for the declining organization rate and countermeasures, the trilateral consultation system, political activities, and the scope of application of labour agreements.
In the visit to RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) in particular, the participants deepened their understanding of Japan’s spring labour struggle system, with RENGO General Secretary Rikio Kozu giving a detailed explanation of the necessity and importance of the spring labour struggle, RENGO’s policy for the 2014 spring struggle, and the process up to settlements. In discussions after the talk, a participant from Colombia explained the conditions of trade union officials in that country. “In Colombia,” the participant said, “an extremely large number of trade union leaders are killed, and many activists suffer threats and attempted murder. However, the criminals are acquitted without being properly punished.”
In the industrial federation lecture, cooperation was received from Unyu Roren (All Japan Federation of Transport Workers’ Unions). The participants heard a wide-ranging explanation of such issues as efforts to improve the organization rate, positive publicity activities for union members, efforts to ensure safety, and work introduction (union activities) for senior high school students. The participants showed a lot of interest in this work introduction for students, and some of them remarked that they would like to consider the implementation of such activities in their own country.
In the regional RENGO Gifu program, discussions covered such topics as the organization rate, the political activities of a regional RENGO branch, and the problem of nonregular workers. The participants heard that, partly because of the large number of small and medium-sized enterprises in its membership, RENGO Gifu’s organization rate is about 5% below the national average, as well as about countermeasures targeting young people aimed at improving the organization rate. Regarding political activities, they asked many questions about specific methods of support, cooperation after elections, and so on.
In the visit to a Hello Work employment office, discussions covered such topics as criteria and conditions for the payment of employment insurance and education and training for foreign workers. There are many foreign workers from such countries as Brazil and China living in the area under the jurisdiction of Hello Work Ogaki, which the participants visited this time, and it has a special counter for foreigners, as well as a permanent Portuguese-speaking staff member. This visit was extremely interesting for the South American participants.
In the final closing ceremony, the participants commented on such things as the strong sense of union membership among Japanese union members, the strict attitude of the Japanese toward time, and their sincere wish for world peace.