JILAF invited 12 persons (including 6 women) from Bangladesh and Nepal to visit Japan from June 8 to 21.
All of the participants from the two countries had many years of experience as trade union officials, and they were very interested in Japan’s industrial relations, labour legislation, and productivity movement. In the question-and-answer sessions and discussions as well, they actively and seriously expressed their opinions and asked questions. They participated positively in the invitation program and showed an understanding of JILAF’s other projects in their countries as well.
In the labour-related lectures, the participants learned about a wide range of issues, including the spring labour struggle (method of formulating policy and schedule), the method of concluding labour agreements, the method of forming trade unions, and the scope of application of labour legislation to foreign workers. They asked many questions and showed an understanding of these topics. Regarding the labour-management consultation system, after understanding the difference between collective bargaining and labour-management consultations, they affirmed the details of the system up to agenda themes and reconfirmed the importance of such consultations. Regarding the spring struggle (shunto), they understood the necessity of leadership by RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) and the significance, impact, and importance of simultaneous action. All of the participants expressed surprise at the fact that Japan’s Trade Union Act permits the formation of trade unions by two or more workers without any need for registration and made comparisons with labour legislation in their own countries.
At RENGO, the participants heard a general explanation of its envisioned “secure society centered on work as its core” and discussed efforts to expand the organization toward the realization of a “10-million-strong RENGO.” In particular, regarding the organization of nonregular workers, they heard the reassuring explanation that although this task is difficult, it is also essential, so RENGO has set up a special team to tackle the issue. The participants then spoke about their eagerness to expand organization in their own countries. Regarding the activities of regional branches of RENGO, there was a question about trade unions accepting membership by individuals, and the participants showed much interest in such organizations.
In the discussion of union leaders, after learning specifically about the major flow of globalization, the participants engaged in discussions including an explanation of future economic globalization and population movement. They confirmed that in order to strengthen trade unions, it is important to properly collect union dues and build a sound fiscal base.
In the industrial federation program, the participants visited UA Zensen (Japanese Federation of Textile, Chemical, Food, Commercial, Service, and General Workers’ Unions) and inspected an affiliated factory of Hanabishi Sewing Co., Ltd. At UA Zensen, they heard an explanation of the present state of organization expansion and related issues and talked about UA Zensen’s activities in general. At Hanabishi Sewing, they inspected the site where sewing actually takes place and engaged in discussions of such issues as the workplace environment, making comparisons with the workplace environment at sewing factories in their own countries. They also heard an explanation of the difficult situation facing sewing factories remaining in Japan and a report of efforts by labour and management to ensure survival.
In discussions with RENGO Chiba, which were attended by officials of RENGO Chiba and its Women’s Committee, many opinions were voiced about efforts toward gender equality. The participants expressed their hope for further gender equality efforts by regional branches of RENGO and offered encouragement to the women officials. At a plant of soy sauce manufacturer Yamasa Corporation, they inspected the workplace and held discussions with union officials. As mechanization advances and productivity improves, the number of union members is gradually declining at this plant. In light of this situation, many participants showed an interest in the state of labour-management relations and the raison d’être of the union.