JILAF invited a total of 11 persons (including 4 women) from the Middle East and Northern Africa to visit Japan from November 29 to December 12. The participants came from the General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA), the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU), the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU), the General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions (GFJTU), the Moroccan Federation of Labour (UMT), the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), and the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT).
Although the participants were from seven countries, they had a strong consciousness of a single Arab world and gave a sense of unity as a team throughout their stay. At the lectures they asked many lively questions, and the sessions often ran over time. While displaying the characteristic Arab conviviality, they also came from countries facing severe domestic situations, so they had particularly strong feelings about peace.
In the labour-related lectures, the participants learned about the postwar history of Japanese trade unions and the Japanese labour movement, including the spring labour struggle, as well as the minimum wage system, labour legislation, and democratic trade union management. For the participants, the premise of industrial relations was confrontation, so they seemed to be very interested in Japanese industrial relations and asked many related questions.
At RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), they received a lecture on gender-equality policy. The women participants were puzzled by and raised questions about the low participation ratio of women in Japan, an advanced nation.
In group discussions aimed at enhancing their negotiating capabilities as trade union officials, the participants divided into two groups, one on “industrial policy” and one on “employment policy,” and engaged in discussions. While recognizing that the response would be different in each of the participating countries, they held heated discussions on such topics as how trade unions should act for the protection of workers.
In the industrial federation visit, the participants visited Seiho Roren (National Federation of Life Insurance Workers’ Unions), where they received an explanation of the life insurance industry in Japan, Seiho Roren, and Seiho Roren’s approach in the 2016 spring labour struggle.
In discussions with RENGO Osaka, they heard explanations from the deputy secretaries general responsible for labour, policy, and organization and then asked questions about the differences between the RENGO Headquarters and regional branches of RENGO, the problem of nonregular workers, the approach of RENGO Osaka in the spring labour struggle, and other issues.
In the workplace visit, they inspected the light vehicle assembly facility and museum at the Ikeda Plant of Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd. In discussions with trade union officials, their questions focused on globalization, such as relations with Toyota and competition among automakers.
The participants also visited the Hello Work Higashiosaka public employment office, where they learned about its organizational structure and the mechanism of unemployment insurance, as well as actually experiencing searching for job vacancies on computers, and Kitaosaka Polytechnic High School, where they observed the studies of young people aspiring to work in manufacturing jobs and inspected the advanced equipment there.
On the final day the participants spoke about how they intended to use what they had learned during their training in their activities back home, citing such things as the building of good industrial relations, the establishment of unified negotiations like Japan’s spring labour struggle, and the expansion of vocational training centers.