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Invitation Program: Reinvitation Team Reports

As a new project in the Invitation Program, JILAF organized a "reinvitation team" by which people who participated in the program in the past and, since returning home, occupied a certain position in their affiliated organization and invited them to Japan once again. JILAF also held a lecture meeting, titled "The Labour Situation in Six Asian Countries, Centered on Multinational Companies," at which the reinvitation team participants reported on the labour situation in their own countries. The following is an outline of their presentation as well as their impression.

Reinvitation Team Lectures: "The Labour Situation in Six Asian Countries, Centered on Multinational Companies"

JILAF held a lecture meeting titled "The Labour Situation in Six Asian Countries, Centered on Multinational Companies" in Tokyo on December 1 with the participation of 42 persons, including government officials and labour experts.
First of all, speaking on behalf of JILAF, its Vice-President Yasuyuki Nodera said, "In the 20 years since the start of JILAF's Invitation Program, we have invited more than 2,200 junior union leaders from 126 countries and 3 territories. Many of them have gone on to leading positions in their countries including former Zambian President Frederick Chiluba and Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. As a new project, in the current fiscal year, we are inviting 'reinvitation teams' consisting of people who have been invited in the past and now occupy a certain position in their affiliated organizations. At this lecture meeting, the speakers will report on the labour situation in their own countries. I hope it will be a good opportunity for us to learn about the labour situation and the state of multinational companies in the participating countries."
The six participants then gave presentations as follows: Mr. Kranthi Kumar Vissa, District Head of the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), on "Specific Labour Disputes in Multinational Companies in India"; Mr. Roni Febrianto Bronotoatmodjo, Head of the Survey and Information Technology Department of the Federasi Serikat Peterja Metal Indonesia (FPSMI), on "The Labour Situation and Industrial Relations in Indonesia"; Mr. Samuel Devadasan Rajaratnam, Financial Secretary of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) on "Labour Disputes with Multinational Companies"; Mr. Mohammed Zahoor Awan, Deputy General Secretary of the Pakistan Workers' Federation (PWF), on "Multinational Companies and Labour in Pakistan"; Mr. Rafael Estoque Mapalo, Head of the Education Department of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), on "The State of Multinational Companies in the Philippines"; and Mr. John De Payva, President of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) of Singapore, on "Response to the Current Global Recession and the Labour Movement in Singapore."
In the lively question-and-answer session that followed, members of the audience asked about such issues as the background to the revised industrial relations law in Malaysia, which is harsh toward workers; taxation on external investment in India; the pros and cons of the formation of an industrial trade union in the electronics sector in Malaysia; and Singapore's response to the economic crisis.
Finally, in a closing address, JILAF Executive Director-General Yoshio Takahashi commented, "What I felt from the reports by the union leaders about the labour situation in their countries is that, as a consequence of the advance of globalization and new liberalism, multinational companies have gained strength. At the same time, while it is important to improve economic conditions and the rights and strength of workers, I see that we are not necessarily in that situation. In order to respond, I feel keenly once again the importance of trade unions having strength and uniting. JILAF has the function of gathering information on the labour situation and trade unions in other countries and will enhance its role as a pipeline between Japanese unions and unions in other countries."

Learning About the Labour Situation in Other Countries at the Lecture Meeting

I am most grateful to have been given the valuable opportunity to participate in the lecture meeting as a member of the reinvitation team and to report on the present state of multinational companies in India. Also, it was a very meaningful experience for me to have been able to learn about the ways that trade union leaders in other countries are tackling the issue of multinational companies.
Since the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which is supported by Rengo, had recently triumphed in a general election for the House of Representatives and a DPJ-led administration had been inaugurated, it was an excellent occasion for me to visit Japan again. I was surprised by the fact that as many as 43 candidates related to trade unions had been elected. And not only that, as a colleague in the labour movement, I am delighted that people with their roots in trade unions have been appointed to such important government posts as chief cabinet secretary, cabinet ministers, and members of the Government Revitalization Unit.
I intend to share my experience in this program with my colleagues back home and put it to use in my activities from now on. Many thanks to JILAF for planning this reinvitation team as a new project.

Reinvitation team participant
Mr. Kranthi Kumar Vissa
Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC)

Importance of Network Building Among Invitation Program Participants

I am very grateful to have been able to experience JILAF's Invitation Program once again. The reinvitation team was a short program lasting just one week, but we were able to experience such activities as labour-related presentations, the "Exchange of Views on the Labour Situation" lecture meeting, a visit to the Kanagawa Plant of Fuji Film, a visit to Rengo, and discussions with JILAF President Tsuyoshi Takagi.
In particular, in the discussions with President Takagi, who was also the previous president of Rengo, Japan's national center, we were able to listen to his valuable talk on such topics as the Japanese labour movement and the present state of trade unions in Japan. It was a very meaningful time indeed.
On the basis of their experience in Japan, Malaysian participants in the Invitation Program have become outstanding leaders and are very active back home. After returning to Malaysia, I would like to build a network among the past participants and share my new information about Japan with them. I sincerely hope that the JILAF program will further develop.

Reinvitation team participant
Mr. Samuel Devadasan Rajaratnam
Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC)

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