JILAF invited six people (of whom two were women) from Brazil and Mexico who had taken part in JILAF’s invitation program in the past to visit Japan again from Tuesday, November 27 to Saturday, December 1. They completed the whole itinerary, including an expanded version of the Exchange of Views on Labour Situation meeting, according to schedule.
In a lecture on the present state of employment and labour in Japan and issues, they deepened their understanding of such topics as the postwar history of Japanese trade unions, their social and economic contributions, and the annual spring labour struggle for a better life and received a general overview of the present situation of Japanese workers and related issues.
In a visit to an industrial federation, they heard a lecture from Zenkoku Gas (Federation of Gas Workers’ Unions of Japan) about the state of city gas in Japan, the action policies of related trade unions, and specific activities and engaged in discussions about common issues.
In a visit to RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), they heard a lecture about RENGO’s activities and efforts in the annual spring labour struggle. The participants asked questions about such issues as collaboration with RENGO-affiliated assembly members and recommended assembly members and the content of negotiations in the annual spring labour struggle. RENGO gave pertinent replies and made additional comments on its policies and activities.
The expanded version of the Exchange of Views on Labour Situation meeting, titled “Specific Examples of Industrial Disputes, Methods of Solution, and Efforts toward Prevention,” was attended by 33 people (8 trade unionists, 1 government official, 2 employer organization representatives, 21 officials from JILAF, and 1 member of the public).
The invited participants reported on the latest labour situation in the two countries and shared information on the state of industrial disputes and labour-management practices, focusing on examples of industrial disputes and their settlement.
The participants from Mexico reported on the objectives of revision of the federal labour law, labour reforms following revision, and specific cases of industrial disputes and countermeasures by industrial federations affiliated to Mexico’s Confederacion de Troubadours de Mexico (CTM; Confederation of Mexican Workers). The participants from Brazil reported on the present political situation in that country and issues facing trade unions, especially revisions of the labour system and dispatch system. These reports sparked lively discussions, with many suggestive questions being asked about the roles and responsibilities of labour and management given their respective standpoints.
In a visit to the Labour Liaison Council of the National Labour Relations Commissions, the participants heard about the structure and activities of the Central Labour Relations Commission and engaged in discussions. They commented on and asked questions about the method of selecting commission members and the investigation of unfair labour acts. A participant from Mexico explained that while that country does have an organization similar to the Central Labour Relations Commission, because its membership is tripartite (government-labour-management), the level of involvement of the government is high.
In a lecture on recent trends relating to labour and social legislation in Japan, the participants received an explanation of trends in Japanese society and an outline of the workstyle reform promotion. In particular, they showed much interest in and asked many questions about policies and social security at a time when Japan is facing a population decline and becoming a super-aged society.
In a lecture on the minimum wage system in Japan, the participants heard an outline of this system and an explanation of the mechanism by which minimum wages are determined. They asked technical and precise questions about such matters as the difference between actual working hours and statutory working hours and the level of RENGO’s estimated living wage.
In discussions with JILAF officials, the participants talked about how they had utilized their past experience of JILAF’s invitation program and what they had learned since then. Among others, they made the following remarks:
(1) “At the start of the program, my national center was not affiliated with an international trade union organization, but in 1992 we joined the International Trade Union Confederation. Through the invitation program, I learned about the importance of international trade union organizations and have actively participated in activities.”
(2) “I tried hard to get what I had learned in Japan about sound industrial relations and job security efforts reflected in the policies of the Workers’ Party of Brazil. Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Workers’ Party) had been a trade union activist, so he showed understanding of such factors.”
Although issues change with the times, knowledge of Japanese industrial relations, labour-management practices, and legislative system clearly helps in the solution of various labour-related problems. The discussions highlighted the fact that ties among participants themselves are continuing even today and made everyone aware once again of the importance and impact of the invitation program.
Finally, the participants made the following comments:
(1) “In the workplace visit, I asked a question about labour force costs. I was impressed by the attitude that since this was internal information, it could not be freely disclosed and the sense of loyalty to the workplace.” (Brazil)
(2) “I was able to further deepen the knowledge that I acquired in the past program.” (Brazil)
(3) “After my last visit to Japan, utilizing my experience in JILAF’s training program, I had experience as a member of the mediation and arbitration commission and a member of parliament. In particular, I feel that my knowledge about labour legislation was useful.” (Mexico)
(4) “I think JILAF Councilor Koichi Oyama’s talk about efforts to revise legislation should be incorporated in the usual invitation program in the future.” (Several participants from both Brazil and Mexico)
|■||Zenkoku Gas (Federation of Gas Workers’ Unions of Japan)||■||Central Labour Relations Commission|
Many thanks to everyone.