JILAF invited 10 female leaders of trade unions in four South Asian countries to visit Japan for 10 days from October 16 to 25. The participants showed much interest in the labour movement and social situation in Japan and took an active part in the program with a determination to take the good points back with them to their own countries. They asked many questions in each session, especially concerning the activities of women in Japanese society and trade unions.
In the first half of the program, they heard lectures from JILAF on “Union Leadership,” “Legislation Supporting the Japanese Labour Movement,” and “The Role of the Japanese Labour Movement and Issues.” In the lecture on labour legislation especially, they were impressed by Japan’s well-developed legislative system and showed a strong interest in such matters as relief measures at the time of unfair labour practices and the financial sources for the social security system.
In their visit to the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, the participants heard a lecture on the ministry’s organization and activities and asked questions about such issues as the role of labour standards inspectors, child labour, and child abuse. In their visit to RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), they heard about RENGO from the Department of International Affairs and about RENGO’s efforts relating to its gender equality plan from the Department of Gender Equality. The participants showed great interest in the issue of women’s participation in society and asked many questions about, for example, the number of female trade union officials and the significance of the Act on Promotion of Women’s Participation and Advancement in the Workplace. In their industrial federation and workplace visits, they visited the headquarters of Denki Rengo (Japanese Electric, Electronic, and Information Union) in the morning and NEC Networks & System Integration Corporation, where the trade union is affiliated to Denki Rengo, in the afternoon.
In the second half of the program, first of all there was a labour-related lecture from JILAF titled “The Tripartite System for the Settlement of Industrial Disputes,” after which the participants asked about the causes of industrial disputes in Japan and the arbitration system. In the Exchange of Views on Labour Situation meeting, the participants, representing eight organization in four countries, spoke about the labour situation in their countries and the labour problems faced by their organizations. A common issue in all four countries was the existence of informal-sector workers (workers excluded from the application of various systems) and efforts to include and protect them. The participants shared information on the active efforts of their trade unions to increase the minimum wage, revise labour legislation, expand the social security system, and so on. In addition, in a JILAF labour-related lecture titled “The Democratic Management of Trade Unions,” implemented in a discussion-type format, the participants heard about basic trade union management and asked many questions about labour agreements and other topics.
At the end of the training program, the participants suggested action plans, making such comments as “I want to establish a legislative system so that minimum wage hikes can be implemented peacefully,” “I want to make efforts to practice Japan’s labour legislation in my own country,” “I want to set up tripartite bodies representing government, labour, and management in each region so as to settle problems between labour and management,” “I want to make efforts to promote a gender equality plan, raise the awareness of women, and organize them,” and “I want to increase the number of women in decision-making bodies.”
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Many thanks to everyone.