JILAF invited a team from Eurasia to visit Japan from November 10 to 23. The team consisted of a total of nine persons from six countries (Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan).
The participants showed much interest in Japanese labour-management relations and rated them very highly. Some of the participating countries are facing ethnic problems, and some participants commented that they felt the need for social dialogue to solve them and that the Japanese system, which emphasizes dialogue in all contexts, would be immensely useful as a reference.
It was also evident that the participants were looking for some extremely concrete information that would be immediately effective in union management in their own countries, such as information concerning the approach of Japanese trade unions in labour-management disputes, the collection of union dues by Japanese trade unions, and the organizational administration of Japanese trade unions. At the same time, they also posed questions that seemed only natural from the point of view of overseas trade union leaders, such as whether the Japanese prime minister’s call for wage hikes could be seen as unwarrantable interference in the autonomy of labour and management and whether Japan’s labour-management consultative system in the end weakens the collective bargaining power of unions. In response, the Japanese side explained that the prime minister’s wage-hike statements do not have any binding power and that consultations and collective bargaining are viewed separately and definitely do not lead to a mixing of the standpoints of labour and management, which firmly assert their respective cases; the distribution of profits is determined through collective bargaining. The participants appeared to be convinced by these explanations.
In the lecture by an industrial trade union federation, Denki Rengo (Japanese Electrical, Electronic, and Information Union) told the participants about its organizational structure, relations with employers, mutual-aid schemes, and other topics. The participants were therefore able to learn about the specific role of an industrial federation in Japan.
In the RENGO Shiga program, the participants visited a Hello Work employment office, where they received an explanation of the government’s job-introduction program. They were able to learn about the activities of the Hello Work office, focusing especially on young people and new graduates, and the countermeasures of Shiga Prefecture. They also visited the Shiga (Ryuo) Plant of Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd., where they inspected the manufacturing site and received an explanation of the wage system, welfare measures, and so on.
Finally the participants compiled individual action plans on how they intended to put what they had learned in the program to use in their own countries. Their suggestions included “introducing a spring labour offensive system,” “establishing a labour-management consultative system for the prevention of labour-management disputes,” and “launching a movement for productivity improvement.”