Middle East and Northern Africa Team

JILAF invited a team of 10 persons (including 3 women) from eight countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa to visit Japan from January 20 to February 2.

Although the labour situation in Middle Eastern and North African countries differs greatly from that of Japan, some countries share with Japan certain common issues arising from the impact of globalization, such as the increase of nonregular employment and widening of disparities. Therefore, the participants showed much interest in what kind of measures were being taken by related organizations in Japan toward the solution of these problems. They also clearly felt the need to strengthen cooperation with trade unions in not only Japan but other countries as well in order to find solutions.

In the RENGO Mie program, in discussions with RENGO Mie executives the participants received explanations of welfare projects being operated cooperatively by workers in order to improve the livelihood of workers and the activities of RENGO Mie at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake. In a visit to Japan Marine United Corporation, they inspected the manufacturing site and received an explanation of labour-management relations in the company. In visits to the Mie Prefecture Labour Bureau and Hello Work Tsu, they learned about the employment situation in Mie Prefecture and were able to observe the prefecture’s front-line employment stability administration. Furthermore, as an example of workers’ welfare project activities, they were able to inspect and hear explanations of a housing sales project operated by the Mie Prefecture Workers’ Housing Cooperative.

The industrial federation and workplace visit this time was conducted with the cooperation of Denki Rengo (Japanese Electrical, Electronic, and Information Union). After hearing an explanation of Denki Rengo’s wide-ranging activities at its headquarters, the participants visited the Fuchu Plant of Toshiba Corporation, which is affiliated with Denki Rengo. Here they inspected the manufacturing site and engaged in discussions with labour and management. They were able to hear about such topics as how the union communicates with individual union members.

On the final day, in response to a question about how they wanted to utilize what they had learned through the JILAF program in their own activities back home, the participants gave such replies as “emphasis on labour-management dialogue in the solution of problems,” “attitude of labour-management cooperation for the improvement of productivity,” “tripartite consultations by government, labour, and management,” and “spring struggle.”

The participating union leaders from Arabic societies differing greatly from Japan in terms of their labour and social conditions, and in various other ways as well, highly appraised Japanese labour-management relations, which always put an emphasis on dialogue in the solution of problems. Since national conditions are so different, it will be difficult for them to immediately introduce Japanese systems upon their return home. But nevertheless, they said, they want to use the experience and information obtained as a first step toward the establishment of constructive labour-management relations in the future.

List of Cooperating Organizations

RENGO MieJapan Marine United Corporation
Japan Marine United Workers’ UnionMie Prefecture Labour Bureau
Hello Work TsuMie Prefecture Workers’ Housing Cooperative
Denki RengoToshiba Corporation Fuchu Plant
Toshiba Workers’ Union Fuchu Plant BranchNippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation)

Many thanks to everyone.

Photos of the Participants

Visit to the Japan Productivity Center

“Exchange of Views on Labour Situation” meeting

Visit to Hiroshima

Visit to Japan Marine United

Discussion with the Mie Prefecture Labour Bureau

Discussion with RENGO Mie and a workers’ welfare organization

Visit to the Mie Prefecture Workers’ Housing Cooperative

Visit to Denki Rengo

Visit to the Toshiba Corporation Fuchu Plant