JILAF invited 12 people (including 2 women) from four organizations in Myanmar and Cambodia to visit Japan from June 21 to July 4.
Throughout the whole program, the participants were able to think about the importance of a free and democratic labour movement. In Myanmar, for example, democratization has been advanced in phases since the general election of 2010, but even today restrictions on freedom and democracy remain and the rights of minority groups are being threatened. In Cambodia, meanwhile, there are trade unions that support the ruling party, trade unions that support opposition parties, and trade unions affiliated with nongovernmental organizations, and financially trade unions themselves are unable to develop an independent labour movement.
The aim of the program was to enable the participants to learn about such issues as methods of promoting a tripartite social dialogue among government, labour, and management, the various demands of an industrial federation, methods of unifying the movement under a single national center, methods of determining the minimum wage, and effective methods of collecting trade union dues.
In the training, the participants were able to deepen their understanding of these points to an extent through a lecture on “The Role of Trade Unions in Postwar Japan and Issues,” group discussions on the democratic management of trade unions, visits to RENGO Nagasaki and UA Zensen (Japanese Federation of Textile, Chemical, Food, Commercial, Service, and General Workers’ Unions), and other activities. In the visit to UA Zensen, for example, the participants were very impressed by and learned a lot from a video of the landmark Omikenshi strike in 1954, the spirit of “harmony without agreement,” and the idea that rather than being supported by political parties, trade unions conclude policy agreements with and support political parties that act for the sake of all workers (and back candidates in elections as necessary).
The main comments and requests from participants were as follows:
---“I realized that the most important factor in collecting union dues is the trust of union members in the trade union.”
---“I thought that improvement of the minimum wage depends on how far national centers can cooperate among themselves.”
---“I felt strongly that employers also need education in the three principles of productivity.”
---“Through the visit to Nagasaki, I felt that I wanted to make efforts to spread the message of peace in my own country.”