In the original plan, starting in May 2020, JILAF was scheduled to successively invite trainees from various countries to Japan under its invitation program. As a consequence of restrictions on entry into Japan due to the spread of Covid-19 infections, the start of invitations to Japan was postponed until August in the hope that the entry restrictions would be lifted or eased.
As the entry restrictions and other measures adopted to counter the Covid-19 pandemic showed no signs of being eased, JILAF decided to cancel the invitation program. However, in view of the fact that this program is implemented under consignment from the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, the extremely strong need for the program in developing countries, and other factors, rather than abandoning the program altogether, JILAF set about reviewing it and then implemented online meetings with links to sites in other countries via the Internet.
Since aspects of the program requiring presence in Japan, such as the regional visits, were impossible, and since lectures and discussions with simultaneous interpretation would be difficult, after consultations with the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, it was decided to make the following revisions:
---Teams would be divided by language and dates reviewed.
---Lecture content would be reviewed, and the format of the Exchange of Views on Labour Situation meeting would be changed, with the same content being submitted in writing and summarized.
---Lectures would be recorded (dubbed) beforehand in various languages and distributed on demand.
---Real-time online meetings would take place on the first and last days for discussions with JILAF executives.
Industrial Dispute Prevention Team
In these circumstances, the program for the Industrial Dispute Prevention Team was held for a total of seven participants---three participants in China (including one woman) on August 24–27 and four participants in India from August 31 to September 3, 2020. The program was completed according to plan.
This industrial dispute prevention program was implemented for trade unionists in China and India, two countries that have a relatively large number of industrial disputes and are the location for operations by many Japanese companies. The purpose of the program was to strengthen and develop industrial relations in each country by enabling the participants to learn in-depth about the latest industrial relations in Japan and other topics. Two participants in India were trade union officials at a Japanese company, and one participant in China was in charge of the prevention of industrial disputes.
In the opening ceremony, which took place in real time online, interest was shown in Japan’s labour movement and prevention and settlement of industrial disputes, and everyone’s enthusiasm was apparent.
In a lecture on the role and issues of the Japanese labour movement, the participants were given an overall picture of what should be learned in this program. They heard about such issues as the transformation of trade unions in the postwar society and economy of Japan and the present state of trade unions; efforts to prevent industrial disputes and secure employment stability through constructive industrial relations differentiating between collective bargaining and labour-management consultations; the annual spring labour struggle; and the holding of tripartite (government-labour-management) consultations.
In a lecture on labour legislation supporting the labour movement and the social security system, the participants were able to deepen their understanding of these topics through content covering labour-related laws, such as the Labour Standards Act and Trade Union Act, means of settling industrial disputes, and social security schemes.
In lectures by RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), the International Policy Division gave an outline of the RENGO Headquarters and explained such matters as priority activities and RENGO’s peace campaign, and the Working Condition Division explained the annual spring labour struggle. Thanks to these lectures, the participants were able to deepen their understanding of these topics.
In a lecture by the Central Labour Relations Commission, the participants heard an explanation of the structure and function of the labour relations commissions and then a concrete explanation of the unfair labour practice relief system and the flow of screening procedures, thereby deepening their understanding of the role played by the labour relations commissions.
In discussions with JILAF executives, the executives answered questions from the participants, and then the participants proposed the following action plans:
(1) “I will continue to compare the social security systems of China and Japan. By the end of the year I will review labour agreements and the labour system.” (All-China Federation of Trade Unions [ACFTU])
(2) “I deepened my understanding of Japan’s tripartite consultations and want to introduce them in my organization.” (All-China Federation of Trade Unions [ACFTU])
(3) “I want to improve systems toward the prevention of industrial disputes.” (Common in both countries)
(4) “I will try to improve productivity, reduce costs, and enhance the workplace environment.” (Indian National Trade Union Congress [INTUC])
In the case of India (INTUC), partly because the location was a factory, the purpose related somewhat to the practical work of a production site. Nevertheless, one could sense the determination of the experienced participants to further capitalize on the knowledge they gained in the program.
Despite the fact that this was the first online program since JILAF’s establishment, the participating countries cooperated very much in the advance preparations and trial stage, giving a sense of their expectations of the program. Although there were some difficulties after the start with communication links and so on, overall the program proceeded in a friendly atmosphere with active participation.
At the same time, many participants showed an extremely strong desire to visit Japan so as to directly learn about the activities and conditions of Japanese trade unions and related organizations and to actually meet and hold discussions with related people.
|■||RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation)||■||Central Labour Relations Commission|
Many thanks to everyone.