Middle East and North Africa Team

The Middle East and North Africa Team visited Japan from July 21 (Sunday) to August 3 (Saturday).

Experiencing job-vacancy searching at Hello Work Niigata

A total of 12 people (of whom 4 were women) from four countries (Algeria, Jordan, Tunisia, and Turkey) visited Japan from July 21 to August 3.

Many of the participants from the Middle Eastern and North African countries were young or midlevel trade union officials who will be future leaders, and they showed a positive attitude of wanting to learn about not only constructive industrial relations and trade union management in Japan but also the labour situation in one another’s countries. Furthermore, since the labour movement and labour-management practices in Japan differ greatly from their own countries, they actively asked questions at the lectures and places visited and made efforts to understand initiatives in Japan to achieve employment stability and so on through the building of constructive industrial relations.

After hearing lectures on Japan’s industrial relations and labour-management practices, as its visit to an industrial trade union federation, the team visited Sonpo Roren (Federation of Non-Life Insurance Workers’ Unions of Japan), where the participants heard a lecture on its organizational structure, activities, and basic campaign philosophy. They showed much interest in the efforts of trade unions to address the problems of long working hours and nonregular workers, as well as specific measures to achieve medium- and long-term goals, and the question-and-answer session was lively.

In the regional program, the participants engaged in discussions at RENGO Niigata, Hello Work Niigata, Niigata Labour Bureau, and Sasaeai Consumer Cooperative, thereby deepening their understanding of the employment situation in Niigata Prefecture, employment countermeasures, and other issues. After that, they visited Hokuetsu Industries Co., Ltd., where the trade union is affiliated with the Japanese Association of Metal, Machinery, and Manufacturing Workers (JAM). There they inspected the kind of manufacturing site that has led Japan’s modernization and learned, among other things, about efforts to improve the workplace environment.

Next, in the Exchange of Views on Labour Situation meeting, the participants reported on the labour situation and issues in their respective countries. Participants from Algeria reported on the declining unionization rate and the response of trade unions to globalization; participants from Jordan reported on the impact of the high unemployment rate and expanding informal sector; participants from Tunisia reported on efforts to establish basic labour rights, such as freedom of assembly; and participants from Turkey reported on the declining value of workers’ wages due to the high inflation rate, the impact on workers of the economic slowdown, and efforts to organize workers.

On the final day, the participants drew up action plans and made the following proposals:
---“After reidentifying the differences between Japan and my country, I want to make efforts to improve labour-management negotiations and the workplace environment in my country.” (Algeria)
---“After my return, I will compile a report summarizing the characteristics of Japan and my country and also report to the national center.” (Jordan)
---“I want to conduct further research on Japan’s labour legislation and so on, report to the national center about the flaws in our country’s labour laws, and propose improvements to the government.” (Tunisia)
---“I will hold a seminar to introduce my experience of learning about industrial relations and labour-management practices in Japan.” (Tunisia)
---“I was extremely interested in labour banks. I want to pursue considerations in the national center about the pros and cons of their introduction and other matters.” (Turkey)

List of Cooperating Organizations

Sonpo RorenJapan Productivity Center
Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation)RENGO Niigata
Niigata Labour Bank Welfare FoundationHello Work Niigata
Niigata Prefectural Government OfficeSasaeai Consumer Cooperative
Hokuetsu Industries Co., Ltd.National Association of Labour Banks

Many thanks to everyone.

Photos of the Participants

Learning about the structure and role of an industrial trade union federation at Sonpo Roren

Inspecting a Japanese manufacturing site at Hokuetsu Industries

A participant reports on the labour situation and efforts of trade unions in his country at the Exchange of Views on Labour Situation meeting.