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Zenroren General Council Meeting calls for an offensive taking advantage of the emerging situation offering chances for winning change

The General Council of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) held its 41st meeting on August 1 and 2 in Tokyo.

The main task of this General Council meeting was to review the first year of the implementation of the action plan adopted at last year's Zenroren 22nd Convention and modify it for the struggle in the second half of the two-year period.

In the opening speech, Zenroren President Bannai Mitsuo spoke about the present task in the new political situation that emerged following the July 29 House of Councilors election.

Proposals adopted unanimously

The General Council meeting discussed on three agenda items:

(1) Where we stand after one year of the Zenroren movement since the 22nd Convention; what should be done in the next one year.

(2) 2006 Financial Report.

(3) The balance carried over from FY 2006 and the financial plan for FY 2007; and the preliminary proposal on amending the Zenroren Action Plan.

Thirty-eight General Council members spoke during the two days of discussion. The proposed documents were approved unanimously after making some practical amendments.

Let us recover lost positions

After the discussion, Zenroren Secretary General ODAGAWA Yoshikazu responded to questions raised by speakers. He said, "The results of the House of Councilors election brought about a new political phase that offers possibilities of change. We will work to recover the lost positions," and made comments on the following 4 points:

  1. In the struggle to defend the Constitution, Zenroren will take a lead in the effort to win over a majority of the people to our side through signature campaign to collect 5 million signatures by May 2008. Each union member will collect at least 5 signatures in a major campaign carried out with industrial and regional federations cooperating.
  2. In the struggle for the establishment of rules for the defense of worker rights, we will focus on the effort to raise the minimum wage and establish the minimum standards for social security pension. It is important to make clear the minimum standards of living, organize discussions and practical efforts to overcome difficulties and problems that stand in the way, and achieve a social consensus. In the struggle against adverse labor law reforms, the task now is for us to develop the movement to improve laws and institutions.
  3. In the struggle for the safety and security of regional communities, the movement in Akita to defend local medical services and the movement opposing the introduction of new taxes are similar to what Zenroren has in mind. We will promote activities to share experiences and increase our social influence.
  4. Efforts to organize young people and contingent workers in regional movements are very important. The regional as well as workplace efforts to organize should go in tandem.

Zenroren organizers

Outgoing Zenroren Executive Committee member YAMASE Noriyuki (Japan Federation of National Public Service Employees' Unions - Kokko-roren) was replaced by ABE Harue from the same federation.

Zenroren's 12 fulltime organizers ended their mission in July. The General Council showed their appreciation for their hard work.

The Executive Committee called on all Council members to make donations to victims of the Niigata earthquake.

Let us develop the movement to press the government to carry out three changes

The following is the gist of the speech given by Zenroren President BANNAI Mitsuo at the Zenroren General Council Meeting on August 1, 2007.

In the recent House of Councilors election the ruling Liberal Democratic Party suffered a historic, crushing defeat. The Komei Party, the ruling coalition partner, also suffered a setback.

Prime Minister Abe has said, "My nation-building effort has just started. I want to fulfill my responsibility." But the electoral verdict has confirmed that many people are demanding that he step down.

If the Prime Minister really believes that his basic policy was approved by the people, he is a politician who is insensitive to what the people want.

The LDP's debacle of the House of Councilors election is the consequence of the basic policy of the Abe Cabinet. It has called for the need to "break away from the postwar regime" and build a "beautiful Japan," implemented policies that widen social disparities and increase poverty and repeatedly shown recklessness in imposing rightist policies on the people. This is why we cannot allow the Abe Cabinet to stay in disregard of strong public criticism.

The Democratic Party of Japan must not fail to see that it has become the largest parliamentary group in the House of Councilors thanks to growing public anger at policies set out by the ruling LDP-Komei coalition government. We urge the DPJ to act in line with the electoral verdict of no confidence in the Abe Cabinet, specifically on such issues as the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law, social disparities and poverty, adverse labor law reforms, pension, the consumption tax and constitutional revision.

The election results constitute a first step toward positive political change. In this regard we demand that the government take the following three steps:

(1) End social disparities, eradicate poverty, raise the minimum wage to at least 1,000 yen everywhere in Japan, and revoke the adversely revised Labor Standards Law and the Labor Contract Law. Give up plans to introduce white-collar exemption and allow employers to use monetary resolution to disputes with individual workers over dismissals.

(2) Review the cutbacks in local government personnel, the introduction of the market testing system, the cutbacks in medical services, welfare services, nursing-care services, and services for disabled people. This is necessary in the light of the election result that rejected the 6.5 years of cutbacks carried out by the Koizumi and Abe cabinets in local services and in services for the socially disadvantaged.

(3) Accept the voters' rejection of the Abe Cabinet's adverse revision of the Fundamental Law of Education, the law to establish the procedures for constitutional revision, and the adverse revisions of three education laws, and stop all moves towards the adverse revision of the Constitution.

We are in a new era in which the people can exercise their power to change politics. We will further increase organizing efforts and day-to-day grassroots activities in the places of work as well as in local communities and achieve advances in our efforts to realize the demands of workers. (Zenroren, August 15, 2007)

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