JILAF invited a total of nine persons (of whom five were women) from the three countries of Kazakhstan, Turkey, and Ukraine to visit Japan from July 23 to August 5, 2017.
During their 14-day stay, the participants broadened their knowledge about industrial relations and the labour situation in general in Japan through labour-related lectures at JILAF, visits to the RENGO Headquarters (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), UA Zensen (Japanese Federation of Textile, Chemical, Food, Commercial, Service, and General Workers’ Unions), the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, and the Japan Productivity Center. In the regional program, they also visited RENGO Nagano and related places in Nagano Prefecture. The participants showed much interest in Japanese-style industrial relations, such as the productivity movement and the labour-management consultation system, as well as labour legislation, the social security system, labour banks, and workers’ mutual-aid insurance. They asked many questions about these topics and, as seen in their action plan presentations, showed an eagerness to introduce Japanese examples after their return home and utilize their experience in their future activities in their own countries.
The first half of the program included lectures on increasing their problem awareness as trade union leaders, the role and issues of the Japanese trade union movement, and Japan’s social and labour legislation. In their visits to RENGO and an industrial trade union federation (UA Zensen) and lectures there, they were able to deepen their understanding about the minimum wage and organization. In the question-and-answer sessions and discussions, their attention focused on such topics as the relations between central and regional bodies, youth activities, and the organization of nonregular workers.
In the Exchange of Views on Labour Situation meeting, representatives of each country reported on the labour situation there and issues facing national centers and industrial federations. Participants from Kazakhstan introduced the efforts of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan (FTRK) relating to nonregular employment, minimum wages, and health and safety. Participants from Turkey reported on the efforts of the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (TURK-IS) relating to retirement fund systems and organization, as well as the activities of industrial federations in the security and airline industries. And the report from Ukraine focused on efforts by the Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners of Ukraine (NPGU) to deal with the problems of health and safety and the nonpayment of wages.
In the regional program, the participants went to Nagano Prefecture for two days, during which time they visited RENGO Nagano, Hello Work Nagano, a vocational training school, the Suzaka Plant of Nagaden Technical Service Co., Ltd. (Nagano Dentetsu Group), and the Nagano Labour Bank. At these places, as well as hearing about their operations and initiatives, the participants engaged in discussions on such topics as the participation of women, consultations relating to individual disputes, and organization expansion. In particular, at the Nagaden Technical Service Suzaka Plant, they had an opportunity to hear explanations and discuss with both labour and management, which deepened their understanding of daily industrial relations there. They also asked questions about and discussed such topics as workplace safety management and the level of worker satisfaction.
In the final part of the program, the participants heard lectures from the Japan Productivity Center, Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), and Zenrosai Kyokai (National Association for Workers’ Welfare and Cooperative Insurance), through which they confirmed the importance of tripartite and labour-management dialogue based on the three guiding principles of productivity. They displayed an interest in and discussed such topics as Japanese-style industrial relations and specific labour-management action. After all of the program had been completed, the participants proposed the following action plans:
---Organize lectures at universities and trade unions on labour legislation, industrial relations, etc.
---Collaborate with employer organizations and investigate the impact of trade unions.
---Introduce labour-management consultation systems at the single trade union level.
---Introduce a mechanism like Japan’s annual spring labour struggle for a better life.
---Discuss productivity improvement and the betterment of working conditions with management.
---Introduce the activities of the Japan Productivity Center and push for their introduction.
---Consider the introduction of organizations like labour banks.