Industrial Relations and Labour Policy Seminar in India

JILAF, together with the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) and Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), held an industrial relations and labour policy seminar in Chennai in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, on October 15–16 with the participation of about 30 union leaders from those organizations. JILAF has been holding this seminar jointly with national centers in more than 10 Asian countries every year, but this was the first time for it to take place in India.
In the seminar JILAF and the participating organizations gave presentations and discussed the economic and social situation in Japan and India and the present state of employment and labour problems and related issues amid the global economy.
At the beginning Mr. Masanori Nakano, the Japanese consul general in Chennai and special guest at the seminar, praised the fact that cooperation between the INTUC and JILAF was contributing to the protection of workers and strengthening of trade union activities in India. Mr. Nakano expressed his hope that the seminar would lead to further collaboration between the two sides.
On the first day of the seminar, each organization gave a presentation on “The Actual State of Employment and Labour and Response to Issues.” In his talk titled “Overview of Employment and the Labour Movement in Japan,” JILAF Executive Director Hisashige Danno explained demographic trends and the number of workers in Japan, focusing especially on women and their employment patterns, and the impact of these factors on the economy and social security.
An INTUC representative then spoke about the realization of demands and settlement of disputes, saying that since economic liberalization in 1991, coupled with inadequate worker protection legislation and a lack of unity among states in this respect, the reality was that however large the union might be, employers often just turn a deaf ear to negotiations and demands. And an HMS representative emphasized that in order to respond to issues between labour and management, it is important for the organizations to act in concert in order to realize the demands of unions to the government, multinational enterprises, and small and medium-sized companies. In the question-and-answer session and discussions, it was explained that given the inadequate legislative system local trade unions in particular had no option but to rely on the courts for the settlement of disputes and realization of demands and that various issues stand in the way of a joint struggle by unions, which are divided by their affiliation to different political parties.
On the second day INTUC President G. Sanjeeva Reddy came from New Delhi to attend the seminar. In his speech, President Reddy expressed gratitude for the cooperation that JILAF and RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) have extended to the Indian labour movement so far. Commenting on the present situation in India, he called on the participants for more joint struggle, saying that although economic growth is progressing, the labour-related legislative system is still lagging and protection of workers’ rights is weak. Unfortunately, however, the unification of India’s labour front needed to confront these issues has not been realized, he said.
The participating organizations then gave presentations on the theme of “The Role of the Labour Movement and Issues.” In his talk titled “Social and Economic Development and the Social Role of the Labour Movement,” JILAF Executive Director Danno suggested that as the waves of growth had spread from the Far East to China and Southeast Asia and were now reaching India, India’s importance in the global economy was increasing. In contrast, speaking about trends since 1991, when the Indian government made a major policy shift toward economic liberalization, an INTUC representative said that systems favoring the business world, such as privatization and the introduction of foreign capital, had been built and regulations to protect workers remained weak. In these circumstances, he said, the labour movement also has transformed from strikes for the realization of union formation and demands to calls for legislation to protect workers. India has a lot to learn too, he said. The HMS speaker noted that industrial relations generally had deteriorated and that it was necessary to develop a movement aware of approaches to the organization of young people and women and also informal-sector workers.
Finally, as a wrap-up bringing the two-day seminar to a close, JILAF Executive Director Danno said, “The current of globalization cannot be stopped. What is required is a positive cycle in which technology is introduced to achieve competitiveness, skilled human resources are trained for this purpose and upgraded, wages are increased, living standards are raised, and the economy as a whole improves.”


10/16ThuSeminar day 1
10/17FriSeminar day 2

Photos of Participants

INTUC President Reddy gives a talk

Special guest Japanese Consul General Nakano addresses the participants

JILAF Executive Director Danno addresses the opening ceremony