On October 26, 2021, the Japan International Labour Foundation (JILAF), together with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), held an online seminar on industrial relations (IR) and labour policy with participants in Beijing. In total, there were thirty nine participants in attendance.
At the opening ceremony, introductions were given by participants on both sides, immediately followed by a lecture. During the lecture, JILAF Executive Director Masayuki Shiota explained matters including the historical background of Japanese society and trade unions, and then spoke about building constructive industrial relations and efforts to prevent unnecessary industrial disputes, with regard to the role and challenges of trade unions.
Next, JILAF Group Leader Naohiro Tsuji gave an overview of the government's legal response to COVID-19 in Japan, the demands of Japanese trade unions, and the achievements therefrom. Afterwards, he took a break and then continued on to explain cases where unions and other entities across Japan have been trying to support, unionize and improve treatment for gig workers.
From the Chinese side, the Vice Principal of the China Institute of Industrial Relations explained the tripartite arrangements in China, and mentioned that they have certainly spread to rural areas and helped to resolve industrial disputes.
During the exchange of opinions and the question and answer session, there were questions about (1) the function of the Labour Relations Commission as a means of resolving industrial disputes in Japan, (2) insurance for workers of Uber Eats, and (3) the activities of JILAF and the financial resources thereof. In response to these questions, the following answers were given: (1) The Labour Relations Commission is a means of resolving industrial disputes through the public, labour and management, but there are other methods of resolution that do not depend on the Labour Relations Commission, such as going through trade unions or administrations (Labor Bureaus), as well as labour tribunals and trials that are not legally binding but can deliver resolutions in a short period of time; (2) At present, Uber Eats workers are insured by general corporate insurance; (3) JILAF engages in projects for building such constructive industrial relations and social development projects by using funds from entities such as the Japan Trade Union Confederation, as well as donations and financial resources of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.
At the end of the seminar, JILAF Executive Director Shiota gave praises and acknowledgement for the enthusiastic attendance, and requested future solidarity. Following this, ACFTU Deputy Director explained that even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese economy is recovering, the movements toward labour-management cooperation and infection prevention are accelerating, and support for trade unions of small and medium-sized enterprises, gig workers and the underprivileged are improving. In addition, he then closed the seminar by giving acknowledgments to JILAF's efforts, and expressing his hope to continue to further exchange and cooperation between the two parties.