JILAF invited a total of 11 people (of whom 6 were women) from four countries (India, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam) to visit Japan from September 3 to 16.
Women accounted for more than half of the team, and seven participants were in their thirties, meaning that the core members had plenty of opinions and substantial trade union experience. The participants were extremely energetic and showed wide-ranging interest in Japan’s constructive industrial relations, the labour movement in general, and other topics, asking many questions and expressing their views.
In the program, there were lectures on the role and issues of trade unions in Japan and trade union leadership. Also, in a lecture on labour and social security legislation supporting the labour movement, they heard about and discussed labour-related laws and regulations, such as the Labour Standards Act and Trade Union Act, and the social security system.
In their visit to RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), the participants heard an explanation from the Department of International Affairs about the organization and priority activities of the RENGO headquarters and also listened to a lecture from the Department of Organizing. At the Japan Productivity Center, they were given a lecture on the three guiding principles of productivity, Japanese-style industrial relations, and future issues.
Furthermore, the participants, together with two students from Rikkyo University and two people from JILAF’s global human resource development scheme, engaged in a group discussion on the theme of youth employment and trade unions, explaining the situation facing young people in their own countries and countermeasures. By sharing opinions about the issues faced by young people, such as nonregular labour, they were able to conduct positive and useful exchange.
In the Exchange of Views on Labour Situation meeting, the participants reported on the labour situation in their own countries and the issues faced by national centers and industrial trade union federations. A participant from India’s Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS; Indian Labour Association) explained the origins of labour-related legislation in India and five issues faced by the HMS (organizational scale, financial strength, relations with politics, the lack of skilled workers, and discord among national centers).
A participant from the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) spoke about the sharp increase in the number of unorganized workers and efforts for the sake of all workers, regardless of whether they are organized or unorganized.
A participant from Malaysia reported on the lack of influence among informal-sector workers and related issues, as well as efforts to protect workers by means of cooperation with other unions.
A participant from the Philippines explained the state of nonregular employment in the Philippines, which, as in the other countries, is continuing to increase, and the emphasis on organization and collective bargaining in response to the deep-rooted anti-union attitude of employers and government authorities.
A participant from Vietnam took up the issue of the increasing number of informal-sector workers in that country and introduced the bottom-up approach of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) to create democratic and sustainable unions.
On the first day of the RENGO Shiga program, the participants paid a courtesy call to Shiga Prefecture Vice-Governor Toshie Ikenaga, after which Department Director Koji Ejima gave an outline of Shiga Prefecture and spoke about the efforts of the prefectural government. The participants then visited the Omi Young People’s Future Support Center and Shiga Mothers Job Station, where they received a lecture on the business content of the facilities and the employment environment of young workers and workers who are also responsible for child raising. The participants also experienced job-search activities using computers offering job vacancy information.
On the second day the participants visited the Shiga Plant of Daikin Industries, Ltd., where they heard an explanation of the plant’s business and inspected the indoor equipment production facilities.
In their industrial federation visit, the participants went to Food Rengo (Federation of All Japan Foods and Tobacco Workers’ Unions), where they heard about the organization’s structure, the role of an industrial federation, and organization activities. Through discussions about such issues as difficulties in negotiating with employers and support for small and medium-sized trade unions, the participants deepened their understanding of the role of an industrial federation.
In their visit to the National Association of Labour Banks, the participants heard explanations of the origins and principles of the business and high-street activities and got a general view of the duties and role of financial institutions for workers.
In discussions with JILAF executives, the participants reaffirmed what they had learned through the program, such as efforts in Japan to promote constructive industrial relations and employment stability. They then proposed action plans, which included the following main points:
• Organize the unorganized sector. (Hind Mazdoor Sabha, India)
• Open trade union courses at universities. (Indian National Trade Union Congress)
• Establish a scheme and center to support the employment of young people. (INTUC, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines)
• Introduce a mechanism like Japan’s annual spring labour struggle for a better life. (TUCP, Vietnam General Confederation of Labour, Malaysian Trades Union Congress)
• Consider the establishment of institutions like Japan’s labour banks. (VGCL)
• Introduce Japan’s labour situation and mechanisms on Facebook. (VGCL)
• Promote training activities for trade union members. (MTUC)
|■||RENGO Shiga||■||Daikin Industries, Ltd. Shiga Plant|
|■||Federation of All Japan Foods and Tobacco Workers' Unions||■||National Association of Labour Banks|
Many thanks to everyone.