Asia-Oceania Team

Visit to the Tokushima Prefecture Council of Workers’ Welfare

JILAF invited a total of 10 persons (of whom 3 were women) from seven countries (Fiji, China [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region], India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam) to visit Japan from January 14 to 27. They completed the training program according to schedule. With this invitation team, the final one in the current fiscal year, the total number of invited participants over the fiscal year reached 116 persons.

In a lecture titled “The Role of Trade Unions in Japan and Issues,” the participants deepened their understanding of the history of the Japanese labour movement, economic trends, the present state and issues of Japanese trade unions, and the functions and role of trade unions, including an outline of RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), the annual spring labour struggle for a better life, and the characteristics of industrial relations in Japan.

In a lecture titled “Labour and Social Security Legislation Supporting the Labour Movement,” they heard an explanation of labour legislation, including the Trade Union Act and Labour Standards Act, the basic principles and general structure of the social security system, the social insurance system, the livelihood protection system, and the second safety net, after which they engaged in lively discussions.

In a visit to the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, they heard a lecture about Japan’s public insurance system and other topics, after which lively discussions took place.

In a visit to RENGO, they heard about the organizational structure of RENGO, the present state of nonregular workers in Japan, and the campaign policy and specific efforts of the RENGO Center for Nonregular Workers in fiscal 2018–19.

In a visit to the Japan Productivity Center, the participants received a lecture about the origins of the productivity movement, the productivity movement in Japan, the productivity movement and trade unions, the three guiding principles of the productivity movement, the 5S and kaizen activities, and future issues in the productivity movement, after which they engaged in discussions. (The 5S refer to the Japanese words seiri [tidiness], seiton [orderliness, seiso [cleanliness], seiketsu [standardization], and shitsuke [discipline]. Kaizen means the continuous improvement of shop-floor work and is an effective means of raising productivity.)

In the Exchange of Views on Labour Situation meeting, the participants from each country reported on the labour situation in their own country and issues facing their national centers. There were reports from Fiji about the increase in nonregular employment and the issue of organizing such workers, from Hong Kong about the problem of the ratio of labour agreements being concluded, from India about the response to unorganized workers, from Malaysia about the nonratification of the International Labour Organization’s Convention No. 87, from the Philippines about the proper distribution of the results of productivity improvement, and from Sri Lanka about links between trade unions and political parties.

Common issues for all of the participating countries included expansion of the informal economy and the response of national centers to the rise in the number of informal-sector workers. Through the discussions that followed, the participants in the meeting deepened their understanding of the labour situation in the countries concerned.

In a visit to the Tokushima Prefecture Council of Workers’ Welfare (Rofukukyo), the participants received an explanation of the history of workers’ welfare councils, the job support program, the project to support the independence of destitute people, and the efforts of local life support centers. After that, they inspected a free-of-charge job placement agency and a work-related counseling service.

In the RENGO Tokushima program, on the first day they visited the Tokushima Prefecture Techno School, where they inspected on-site vocational training, including welding, carpentry, and hairdressing.

The participants also visited Hello Work Tokushima and the Tokushima Polytechnic Center. At the Hello Work public employment security office, they received an explanation about such topics as the employment and unemployment situation in Tokushima Prefecture, the ratio of senior high school graduates receiving job offers, and the flow of employment insurance. At the polytechnic center, they observed vocational training for jobseekers to help them find reemployment quickly.

In discussions with RENGO Tokushima officials, after a welcome address by RENGO Tokushima President Yoshihiro Morimoto, they shared information with the top three officials of RENGO Tokushima about the issues faced by their countries and by RENGO Tokushima.

On the second day, in a visit to the Tachibana-wan Power Station of Shikoku Electric Power Co., the participants heard an explanation centered mainly on environmental preservation measures and health and safety measures, after which they learned more about the role of Japan’s electric power industry through a tour inside the facility.

In a visit to JEC Rengo (Japanese Federation of Energy and Chemistry Workers’ Unions), they received an explanation of efforts toward job stability and the improvement of general working conditions, as well as union building and typical efforts of the business-specific committees, thereby learning about the role and activities of an industrial federation from various angles.

In a lecture titled “Japanese Industrial Relations as Seen by Management,” the participants heard from Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) about industrial relations, labour-management negotiations, the flow of labour-management negotiations in the annual spring labour struggle, the Japanese-style employment system, and methods of communication between labour and management from the standpoint of management.

In a visit to the National Association of Labour Banks, after inspecting labour bank ATMs and a workplace, the participants received an explanation of the background to the establishment of labour banks, welfare finance, the life support movement, and so on, thereby deepening their understanding of the role of such welfare finance institutions in promoting mutual aid among working people.

The main points of the action plans proposed by the participants were as follows:
・ “I want to share information in my organization about what I learned concerning the unionization of unorganized workers, improvement of the work environment, the holding of training sessions to foster union leaders, and also the peace movement.” (Fiji)
・ “My country is facing the same issues as Japan, such as aging and a labour shortage. I will summarize what I have learned in Japan in a report and share the information both inside and outside my organization. In particular, I want to improve relations between the government, labour and management, and public interest in my country.” (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China)
・ “I was impressed by the fact that the workers’ welfare and productivity improvement movements are basic in Japan and that various efforts are being made through the labour-management consultation system. I became aware of such issues as vitalization of the private-sector labour movement.” (India)
・ “The lectures about labour legislation and strengthening the negotiating power of trade unions were very interesting. As well as getting an overview of the Japanese labour movement and activities to promote decent work, I renewed my determination to oppose the use of nuclear weapons.” (Sri Lanka)
・ “I learned about measures to propose and settle policy issues. Matching the situation in Vietnam, I want to make policy proposals in such fields as social security.” (Vietnam)

List of Cooperating Organizations

Tokushima Prefecture Council of Workers’ Welfare Tokushima Prefecture Techno School
Hello Work TokushimaTokushima Polytechnic Center
Japan Productivity CenterTachibana-wan Power Station of Shikoku Electric Power Co.
JEC RengoNippon Keidanren
National Association of Labour Banks

Many thanks to everyone.

Photos of the Participants

Light exercises before a labour-related lecture

Exchange of Views on Labour Situation meeting

Inspection of welding at the Tokushima Prefecture Techno School