Mercosur + Mexico Team

Opening ceremony of Spanish-speaking part (address by JILAF president)

Following restrictions on entry into Japan due to the spread of Covid-19 infections, the program of the Mercosur + Mexico Team also was held online via the Internet. A total of 12 persons (including 9 women) participated—two persons (including one woman) in Spanish-speaking Colombia and three persons (including two women) in Spanish-speaking Mexico from October 12 to 16 and seven persons (including six women) in Portuguese-speaking Brazil from October 19 to 23, 2020. The full program was completed according to schedule.

These three countries, which have attracted many Japanese companies, are related to Mercosur (Southern Common Market), which is seen as having great potential as a manufacturing center and market of the world. (Brazil is a full member of Mercosur, Colombia is an associate member, and Mexico is an observer.) Amid labour legislation reforms in their countries, the participants showed a positive attitude toward the program and an eagerness to learn about Japan’s labour situation and labour policies and to utilize the information in their own activities.

Because of the time difference, the real-time online sessions took place from late at night until daybreak in Japan, but nevertheless they proceeded without hitch. The participants commented, however, that they would like to actually visit Japan and view firsthand the activities and conditions of Japanese trade unions and related organizations.

In a lecture on the role and issuesof the Japanese labour movement, the participants were given an overall picture of the purpose of the 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 discussion-oriented 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 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 Organizing Division explained RENGO’s organization expansion efforts, thereby deepening the participants’ understanding.

Regarding Japan’s labour legislation and social security system, in a lecture by JILAF, the participants studied details of the mechanisms supporting workers, and in a lecture by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, they received an outline of the ministry’s work, thus deepening their understanding.
In a lecture on trade union leadership, after an overview of the mental readiness of trade union leaders, the social role of trade unions, and so on, the participants learned about the importance of engaging in the labour movement while taking account of the various issues facing each country and having a medium- and long-term perspective.
In a lecture by the Japan Productivity Center, the participants were given an explanation of the three guiding principles of productivity and Japanese-style industrial relations and were able to deepen their understanding of the position of the three guiding principles of productivity in industrial relations and their contribution to productivity improvement in Japan.

In a lecture by Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), the participants heard about the desired form of the three guiding principles of productivity from the standpoint of employers and the contribution of trade unions to productivity improvement based on Japanese-style industrial relations and labour-management practices.
In a lecture by Zenrosai Kyokai (National Association of Workers’ Welfare and Cooperative Insurance), the participants heard about the structure and history of nonprofit cooperatives as a mutual-insurance business based on the spirit of mutual aid, as well as Japan’s security market and its characteristics.
In the follow-up on the final day (discussions with JILAF directors), the directors answered questions from the participants so as to deepen their understanding. In the closing ceremony, the participants proposed action plans and expressed their determination to further utilize the knowledge they had gained in the program based on their respective experiences.

The following were the main points of the action plans proposed by the participants:
(1) “I will provide feedback on what I have learned in this program to my organization. I will study Japan’s model for the eradication of child labour.” (Confederation of Workers of Colombia [CTC])
(2) “I will endeavor to ensure employment for the elderly, increase the retirement allowance for workers with many years of service, shorten working hours for single mothers for the sake of their children’s education, and improve social security for sick and disabled workers.” (Confederation of Mexican Workers [CTM])
(3) “I will try to raise the status of women amid the Covid-19 pandemic.” (National Workers’ Union [UNT; Mexico])
(4) “I will encourage the strengthening of unions and organization of workers, including nonregular workers, and promote the response to Covid-19, the cancellation of unfair dismissals, and the revision of labour legislation.” (Unified Workers’ Central [CUT; Brazil])
(5) “I will create opportunities to visit sites, produce an action plan for the protection of workers, and establish a forum for tripartite dialogue.” (Forca Sindical [FS; Brazil])
(6) “I will endeavor to improve safety and health, draft countermeasures for post-unemployment overseas, protect women workers, and further study the productivity movement and Labour Relations Commissions.” (General Workers’ Union [UGT; Brazil])

List of Cooperating Organizations

Ministry of Health, Labour, and WelfareRENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation)
Japan Productivity CenterNippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation)
Zenrosai Kyokai (National Association of Workers’ Welfare and Cooperative Insurance)

Many thanks to everyone.

Photos of the Participants

Closing ceremony of Spanish-speaking part (address by JILAF director general)

Q&A session in Portuguese-speaking part

Closing ceremony of Portuguese-speaking part (address by JILAF president)