Zenroren stages protest against passage of bill to adversely revise law on temporary agency workers
Stop the collapse of employment or peace!
Force the Abe Cabinet to step down!
Let us launch a new struggle from workplaces and local communities!
Members of Zenroren unions take to the streets
The House of Representatives on September 11 voted to adopt a bill to adversely revise the law on temporary agency workers. The bill had been sent back from the House of Councilors with amendments and 39 resolutions. But the House of Representatives skipped any substantive discussion on it and put it to a vote after hearing some opposition statements. The bill became law.
The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) and the Central Liaison Council against Adverse Labor Law Reform sat in on the House of Representatives plenary meeting and held a meeting at the House lobby. Later in the day participants held a publicity action in front of Shinjuku station in protest against the railroading of the bill. They explained to the passersby what the revised law will do to the Japanese workers and called on them to come to the union if they have problems in their places of work.
Twenty people took part in the action at Shinjuku station.
Zenroren Secretary General INOUE Hisashi took the microphone and said as follows:
“We protest the enactment of the bill on temporary agency workers after being approved in the plenary session of the House of Representatives. Prime Minister rushed to get the Diet to enact the bill to be implemented on September 30, apparently with the aim of thwarting a new rule of employment which is due to go into effect on October 1. The new rule provides that a company that has been found illegally using a temporary agency worker must offer the worker a position of direct employment. If we are to seek a better economy and society, it is necessary to ensure that employment is stable and that workers receive wages that are enough for them to live a humane life. In the Diet, lawmakers are also discussing war bills. Japan has for 70 years been with the pacifist Constitution, under which Japanese people have never killed or been killed in war. What runs through these two issues (the war bills and the bill to adversely revise the law on temporary workers) is politics that does not treat human as humans. We have no choice but to force the Abe administration out. Let us fight to revise the law on temporary agency workers and scrap the war bills.”
A lawyer from the Japan Lawyers Association for Freedom said: “The use of temporary agency workers is what must not exist. The user and employer of temps are not the same. There are ambiguities as to who is responsible for temp workers, the user or the employer. Temps workers can be thrown out so easily. The latest adverse revision gives companies freedom to keep using temp workers indefinitely, and makes it possible to perpetuate temps dismiss workers without restrictions. Electronics makers have already begun carrying out corporate restructuring through replacing regular full-time workers with temps. We must quickly strengthen the struggle for an early revision of the law and against giving employers freedom to fire workers.”
A representative of the Tokyo Regional Council of Trade Unions (Tokyo Chihyo) said:
“Prime Minister Abe is destroying the labor laws in order to make Japan the world’s easiest place for companies to do business. Constitutional rights might be taken away. The revised law on temporary agency workers has been enacted with no discussions held ending the bills or 39 supplementary resolutions. The government plans to adversely revise the work-time law. We will fight on to stop the anti-worker legislation that will only help the ‘lack companies’.”
An officer of the Japan Federation of Prefectural and Municipal Workers’ Unions (Jichiroren) , dressed like “Donald”, took the microphone. He said:
“A bill that eliminates the prohibition of replacing regular full-time workers with contingent workers has just been enacted. The measure is aimed at gutting the rule requiring the employer to offer a temporary agency worker a regular full-time position if the company has been found to illegally use the temp worker. The revised law is full of defects and is opposed by 70 percent of the workers. Clearly, companies are moving to replace regular full-time workers with fixed-term contract workers. Raise voices against the law in workplaces! I call on temp workers to come to the union if they face any illegal treatment.”
A representative of the All-Japan Metal and Information Machinery Workers’ Unions (JMIU) said:
“I was in the gallery listening to the committee discussion on the bill. The discussion was terrible as it was stopped frequently due to ministers’ inability to appropriately respond to lawmakers’ questions. Please watch the proceedings on web pages or read them in newspapers. The use of temporary agency workers should be limited to temporary jobs. Direct employment and regular full-time employment should be a matter of course. But the revised law says nothing about how to pave the way for temp workers to become fulltime. With more and more people becoming temporary agency workers, the working poor population will dramatically rise. The law on temporary agency workers and the War Bills are two sides of the same coin. We protest against what the government is trying to do. We will fight to stop employers from replacing direct employment with the use of temps. We will fight against the War Bills as well.”
A representative of the Japan Federation of Commercial Broadcasting Workers’ Unions (Minpororen) said:
“The use of temporary agency workers existed in Japan before World War II with ‘kuchiire-ya’ (employment agent) as brokers, who took certain amount workers’ wages as a commission. It was prohibited after the War, under Article 44 of the Employment Security Law. Later, 26 jobs were exempted from the ban, and in the broadcasting business 4 professional jobs are exempted. The use of temporary workers is limited to three years. An announcer as a temp worker cannot do other jobs in the station. I am afraid that temporary workers might be disguised as independent contractors.
He also criticized public broadcaster NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai =Japan Broadcasting Corporation) for becoming an outlet of government information regarding the War Bills on its news program. News reporting must serve to protect people’s right to know under democracy.
He said the Declaration of Philadelphia said labor is not commodity, adding that the use of temporary agency workers leads to human rights violations. Down with the cabinet that initiated such an awful legislative measure!”
Let us continue struggling around the common action initiative
After listening to the plenary session of the House of Representatives in the afternoon, union activists met at the lobby. Japanese Communist Party (JCP) members of the House of Representatives TAKAHASHI Chizuko and HORIUCHI Terufumi spoke to the participants.
Executive members of the National Trade Union Council (Zenrokyo) YUGI Yasuko and ENDO Ichiro spoke in solidarity with the participants, expressing their determination to continue to fight around the joint employment action initiative.
ITO Keiichi, an executive committee member of Zenroren, gave the concluding remarks. He said:
“The labor ministry’s labor policy council will begin a discussing ministry ordinance and guidelines. Let us send out opinions to improve the outcome. I hope you to listen to the council deliberation at the ministry or take action in front of the ministry. I also call on you to send public comments.”
We strongly protest railroading of bill to adversely revise the law on temporary agency workers
A bill to adversely revise the law on temporary workers became law after the bill’s passage in the House of Representatives on September 11.
After the bill was approved by the House of Representatives Committee on Health, Labor and Welfare on September 8, the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) reiterated its opposition to the bill in a statement issued by Secretary-General INOUE Hisashi.
The statement follows:
We strongly protest railroading of bill to adversely revise the law on temporary agency workers
By INOUE Hisashi, Secretary General
National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
September 8, 2015
On September 8, the House of Councilors Committee on Health, Labor and Welfare approved a bill to adversely revise the law on the use of temporary agency workers, which is even opposed by temp workers, in defiance of people’s strong opposition. The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) strongly protests the committee action.
The bill’s deliberations in the House of Councilors made it even clearer that the measure will make it common for employers to use temps as low-paid and disposable temporary agency workers in violation of the main principle of direct employment. It will only help to rapidly increase the number of precarious temp workers and lead to a job market collapse. The aim of the bill is to force the workers to work as temporary agency workers all through their lives and to eliminate full-time regular employment. This will make jobs more and more unstable and lead to continuous declines in the workers’ wage levels. We must severely criticize the bill as a measure that will lead to destruction of people’s livelihoods and contraction of domestic demand, which in turn will destroy the nation’s economy.
We also note clearly that the parties of the ruling coalition are trying to gut a law that will go into effect on October 1 in favor of workers. The law will require a company using temp workers to offer them full-time positions if the company has been found to use them in an illegal manner. Immediately before the vote on the bill, the ruling parties amended it to delay its implementation date until September 30 instead of September 1. But there are only days left before the enforcement of the law. How outrageous!
We must point out that the committee put the bill to the vote as the end of the current session of the Diet draws near, in complete disregard of strong opposition raised by temp workers, despite the fact that public opinion and the trade union movement have driven the ruling parties into a corner.
The ruling parties initially planned to put the bill to the vote on September 1. But they unilaterally delayed it to September 30. What’s more, they made technical changes in the bill ostensibly to deal with the 3 points that had been severely criticized by trade unions and opposition parties, and railroaded the bill through the committee. By doing this, they virtually admitted that they are proposing a defective bill. We can confirm that we have driven the ruling parties into a corner on this score and that it is impossible to make the bill acceptable by making any cosmetic changes. The bill must be scrapped.
The bill has been railroaded through the committee, but it needs to be discussed in the full House. As the bill has been amended, it needs to be transferred back to the House of Representatives. As the end of the current session of the Diet draws near, we are called upon to be confident in what we are doing in the movement and to cooperate with the broad sections of the people against the war bills in order to make every effort to scrap the bill to adversely revise the law on temporary agency workers, a bill that leads to a labor market collapse. Zenroren is determined to do more to help broaden the struggle.