Central and South America Team

Exchange of Views on Labour Situation meeting

The Central and South America Team, which visited Japan from October 15 (Sunday) to 28 (Saturday), consisted of a total of 10 persons (of whom 6 were women) from three countries (Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico). All the training program was completed according to schedule.

The participants, more than half of whom were women, spoke Portuguese or Spanish. Throughout the program in general, they actively exchanged information relating to labour issues in their own countries and Japan and engaged in lively exchange transcending national center frameworks.

Asking many pertinent questions and expressing their opinions, they showed a wide-ranging interest in such topics as the productivity movement and Japanese-style industrial relations (labour-management consultation system, etc.), labour legislation, the social security system, the minimum wage system, labour banks, and mutual-aid insurance for workers. Impressed by Japan’s postwar economic development, they participated actively wherever they went and displayed a strong desire to learn as much as possible from Japan and take the good points home with them.

In a lecture on the role of Japanese trade unions and issues, the participants deepened their understanding of such topics as the transformation of Japanese trade unions since World War II, their social and economic contributions, and the annual spring labour struggle for a better life. Through the program in general, they were able to foster an awareness of the issues involved. In particular, the participants showed much interest in the management of Japanese trade unions and Japanese-style industrial relations.

In their visit to the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, they were welcomed by Councillor Yoshihisa Tsuchiya of the Minister’s Secretariat, after which they heard lectures from officials in charge on such topics as an outline of the ministry and the role of labour administration in employment and workstyles. The participants asked many questions about such matters as gender employment equality policies and the management of health and safety committees.

In their visit to RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), the participants heard a welcome address from General Secretary Yasunobu Aihara and then listened to an explanation of the structure of the headquarters and its priority activities from the Department of International Affairs. They were also given a lecture by the Department of Organizing on efforts to expand the RENGO organization.

At the Japan Productivity Center, the participants heard an explanation of the three guiding principles of productivity, Japanese-style industrial relations, and labour-management practices in Japan and learned about the history of the Japan Productivity Center and its organizational setup.

In the Exchange of Views on Labour Situation meeting, the participants reported on the labour situation in their own countries and issues faced by their national centers and industrial federations. Participants from Brazil reported mainly on the impact of labour law reform in 2017 and subsequent unified action by trade unions. Participants from Colombia explained the present state of that country’s unstable social security system and the low trade union organization rate and emphasized the need for solidarity. The report by the Mexican participants centered on the problems of the revised labour law of 2012 and the issue of dispatch workers.

In their visit to the Fukui Prefecture Council of Workers’ Welfare Associations (Rofukukyo), the participants heard about its organization and business and the activities of labour banks and insurance cooperatives for workers, after which they went to an outlet of Zenrosai (National Federation of Workers and Consumers Insurance Cooperatives) to see how such a cooperative actually works.

In the first morning of the RENGO Fukui program, the participants visited the Hello Work Fukui public employment security office and the Fukui College of Industrial Technology, where they received lectures on the local employment situation and vocational training, respectively. At Hello Work they experienced searching for jobs on the computers available to jobseekers there, and at the college they inspected vocational training facilities.

In the afternoon they visited a government-run polytechnic center, where they inspected vocational training classes for jobseekers, after which they engaged in discussions with RENGO Fukui on its efforts in the region and other topics.

On the second day the participants visited Hitachi Zosen Fukui Corporation, where they received an explanation of its business and then observed the manufacturing site, including the automobile manufacturing press. In discussions, they showed much interest in the company’s employment of women, the mandatory retirement system, and efforts to ensure safety management in the workplace.
In their visit to an industrial federation of trade unions, the participants went to Denki Rengo (Japanese Electrical, Electronic, and Information Union), where they deepened their understanding of an industrial federation through questions and answers on such topics as the efforts of the industrial federation and company-based trade unions in collective bargaining and the impact of robotization and automation.

In a lecture from Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), the participants heard an explanation of industrial relations in Japan from the point of view of an employers’ organization and showed interest in the fact that there are discussions and collaboration between trade unions and employers’ organizations. They also asked questions on such issues as measures to reduce long working hours, which are a cause of death from overwork.

In a visit to the National Association of Labour Banks, the participants heard an explanation of the business’s history and principles and high-street activities, thereby deepening their understanding of the mission and role of financial institutions for workers.

In discussions between the participants and JILAF executives, which were a good opportunity to deepen mutual understanding, the JILAF side, responding to the action plans, asked about such matters as the relations between each national center and political parties.

The participants’ proposals in their action plans included the following:
• Will suggest that the national center organizes events to study the international labour situation. (Brazil)
• Will study the introduction of organizations like labour banks. (Brazil)
• Will report to the national center and share in detail what has been learned in training. (Brazil, Mexico)
• Will consult with employers about productivity improvement and the improvement of working conditions. (Brazil, Mexico)
• Will report the action plan to the national center and share information. (Brazil, Colombia)
• Will improve the knowledge of workers through communication media. (Mexico)

List of Cooperating Organizations

Japan Productivity CenterRENGO Fukui
Fukui College of Industrial TechnologyJapanese Electrical Electronic & Information Union
Fukui Prefecture Council of Workers’ Welfare AssociationsHello Work Fukui
Hitachi Zosen Fukui CorporationNational Association of Labour Banks

Many thanks to everyone.

Photos of the Participants

Lecture at JILAF

Visit to the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare

Visit to the Japan Productivity Center

Discussions with senior officials of RENGO Fukui

Visit to Hello Work

Company visit (Hitachi Zosen Fukui Corporation)