JILAF held follow-up seminars in Hong Kong on August 8-9, 2012, with a total of 41 participants from the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) and the Hong Kong and Kowloon Trades Union Council (HKTUC), including 14 past participants in the JILAF Invitation Program and trade union leaders. It was the first time for JILAF to hold the follow-up seminar in Hong Kong.
The objectives of this seminar are (1) to investigate how past participants in the JILAF Invitation Program are putting what they studied in Japan to use in their activities back home and (2) to exchange opinions on the labour situation and labour movement in Japan and invitation partner countries and thereby strengthen mutual solidarity and cooperation.
Hong Kong companies do not have a lifelong employment system or seniority-based wage system, and there is no public pension or national health insurance scheme like Japan’s. The feeling of company loyalty among workers is relatively weak, and because the right of collective bargaining is not legally recognized and working conditions are determined by individual contracts, there is a strong tendency for workers to change jobs rather than demand a wage hike. When companies suddenly dismiss workers, the custom is for them to pay monetary compensation. In accordance with this background, as well as the trend toward cost restraint, most workers are engaged in nonregular employment, such as contract or part-time work. In 2011 the unemployment rate stood at 3.4%. A minimum wage ordinance has been in effect since May 1, 2011. As of August of this year, the statutory minimum wage in Hong Kong was HK$28 (280 yen) per hour.
In the seminar with the HKCTU, HKCTU President Cheng Ching Fat remarked, “I would like to express my gratitude for the fact that ever since our establishment in 1990, over the years many union leaders have had the opportunity to participate in the JILAF Invitation Program and have been able to broaden their international horizons.” JILAF Assistant General Secretary Bunzo Katsuo then gave a lecture titled “Issues Facing Japanese Labour Unions,” which prompted the participants to ask related questions about such topics as Japan’s nonregular workers, mandatory retirement age, support for the elderly, and the custom of monetary compensation at the time of dismissal.
In their reports on their activities since returning home, past participants in the JILAF Invitation Program made such comments as “I was impressed by the organization of factory workers in Japan. Since returning I have put a lot of effort into the organization of cement mixer factory workers, and we have been able to organize 95% of the 800 workers” and “After my training in Japan, in a security company union, under the name of shunto, I have continued to demand the implementation of collective bargaining, the introduction of a working-time system, and the introduction of a minimum wage.”
In the seminar with the HKTUC, after a welcome address by HKTUC Chairman Lee Kwok Keung, JILAF Assistant General Secretary Katsuo gave a lecture on the overall labour situation in Japan, including the minimum wage and working hours. In their reports on their activities since returning home, past participants in the JILAF Invitation Program made such comments as “I was impressed by the data analysis of Japanese unions, and since returning I have put a lot of effort into surveys and research. The exchange with participants from other countries was significant in broadening my international perspective,” “Before the training the labour-management relations in my company were extremely confrontational, but after the training there has been a shift in the direction of implementing a labour-management consultation system in which labour and management sit down and discuss together,” “Since the right of collective bargaining and public pensions do not exist in Hong Kong, Japan’s labour legislation interested me most of all,” and “Since I work in the food and drink industry, I was very interested in the Part-time Work Act and minimum wage.”
|08/08||Wed||Meeting with the HKCTU|
Visit to the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Hong Kong
Visit to the Japanese Consulate-General in Hong Kong
|08/09||Thu||Follow-up seminar (HKCTU)|
|08/10||Fri||Follow-up seminar (HKTUC)|
|08/11||Sat||Meeting with the HKCTU and HKTUC|