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The Worker Dispatch Law Is Revised in Part
- One Step Forward to Improve the Working Conditions of Dispatched Workers -
Through an agreement on the amendments made by the ruling and opposition parties, a bill to revise in part the Worker Dispatch Law passed the House of Representatives on March 8, 2012, and then the House of Councillors on March 28. The bill itself had been submitted to the ordinary session of the Diet in 2010, but the subsequent sessions of the Diet had failed to pass it. Two years later than its submission, the bill could pass the Diet at last as amended.

The bill to partially revise the Law was originally debated from the perspective of protecting the dispatched workers who were forced to face with continuous unilateral cancellations of employment contracts right in the midst of worldwide simultaneous recession following the Lehman Brothers shock. The main point of the proposed revision was that the so-called "registration-type dispatch", in which a worker who has registered at a temporary staffing agency enters into an employment contract with the agency only when work is available, should be prohibited, excepting the jobs requiring professional skills and those for the elderly people. The same prohibition was to be basically applied to the worker dispatching to the manufacturing industry as well.

However, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the ruling party, was soundly defeated in the election of the House of Councillors held in July 2010, and the Diet has plunged into a "twisted situation" in which the DPJ controls the House of Representatives but becomes a minority in the House of Councillors, which has led deliberations in the Diet to a standstill as a matter of fact, due to the oppositions of the opposition parties.

In such situation, the DPJ judged that, if things went on like this, it would also be difficult to submit other related bills to improve the working conditions of other nonregular workers including fixed-term contract workers and part-time workers, and it reached an agreement with the opposition parties in November 2011 to amend the bill through substantially conceding to the opposition parties. As a result, whether or not the registration-type dispatch as well as the dispatch to manufacturing industry are prohibited were shelved as the matters to be further examined in the future.

On the other hand, the newly revised Law prohibits the dispatch by the day of less than 30 days and makes it obligatory for temporary staffing agencies to disclose their share of fees received from dispatching workers. Moreover, an "assumed employment system", by which, in case where an illegal dispatch is found, the company receiving the dispatched worker is assumed to have proposed an employment contract with the worker, is to be introduced after three years from the enforcement of the Law (Revised) . Consequently, the new revision can be evaluated as a step forward to stop the trend toward the deregulation of labor. In addition, it is made obligatory to give consideration to balancing the wages of dispatched workers with those of the workers in the same work in the same jobs in the same receiving company.

Regarding such issues as how the registration-type dispatch system should be and how the dispatch to the manufacturing industry should be, which have been shelved this time as the matters to be further examined in the future, are scheduled to be discussed again in the tripartite Labour Policy Deliberation Council composed of representatives of labour, management and the public interest, after about one year from the enforcement of the Law (Revised).

In its comment on the new revision, RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) said that it would continue its efforts to ensure that the Worker Dispatch Law will contribute to the protection of workers, and that, in the 2012 spring struggle for a better life, it would urge all its affiliates and locals to develop activities aimed at improving the working conditions of dispatched workers and other nonregular workers.
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