Delegates to Zenroren 29th Convention pledge work to build 1.5 million-strong union
The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) held its 29th Convention from July 26-28 in Tokyo. The Action Plan for 2018-2019 was proposed along with a revised 4-Year Plan for Organization Build Up focusing on what is to be done over the next two years, the financial report, and the budget. The Convention was attended by more than 300 delegates from 18 federations, 47 local organizations. Sixty-nine delegates spoke. All the proposed documents were adopted. The Convention elected a new leadership led by President ODAGAWA Yoshikazu and Secretary General NOMURA Yukihiro.
As Zenroren prepares to mark its 30th anniversary next year, the 29th Convention was filled with the great enthusiasm and determination to make a leap in the movement to realize the demands and in the effort to build up the organization by reconfirming the position on which Zenroren was founded and by developing a new horizon beyond the cataclysm.
President Odagawa: We will prevent ‘adverse work style reform’ policy from being imposed on the workplace
Zenroren President ODAGAWA Yoshikazu made the introductory statement to emphasize that Zenroren-affiliated unions have tackled various issues and played their part in the past two years of political turmoil. He also called on the delegates to increase the movement to stop the “work style reform” legislation from being imposed and to repeal the law itself. He referred to the nationwide 30 million-signatures drive against the adverse revision of the Constitution. About half of the target number has been achieved. Odagawa said the need now is to reach the goal and stop the process of constitutional change from being initiated. Criticizing the recommendation of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare’s panel to increase the hourly minimum wage by 26 yen on average, Odagawa said a 26-yen increase is far from allaying the hardships caused by poverty and will only help widen the regional gaps. He stressed that the union fight for a minimum wage increase is now moving to regional minimum wage councils, and the task is to put forward the demand for higher regional minimum wages while intensifying the movement calling for a uniform national minimum wage system as well as a substantial increase in the minimum wage in line with the minimum wage action plan.
Let us put all our energies to implement the reinforced 4-year plan in the remaining two years
Acting Secretary-General HASHIGUCHI Norishio explained the proposed action plan. He stressed the importance of achieving a 1.5 million-strong Zenroren by encouraging industrial and regional federations to exert their power in order to fulfill the goals set by the revised 4-year organization build up plan in the next two years.
The action plan sets out three main directions of the movement for the next two years: (1) Federations and local organizations will work together to increase day-to-day efforts to fulfill the goals set by the revised 4-year plan; (2) We will stop the “work style reform” policy from being imposed on the workplace and will fight to realize a society in which everyone can lead a decent life by working 8 hours a day; and (3) Determined to prevent the adverse revision of Article 9 of the Constitution, we will fight to force the Abe government to relinquish power so we can stop the maneuvers to adversely revise the Constitution.
The action plan calls for the following struggles in line with the three basic directions:
To continue 30 million signature drive and other forms activities in defense of the Constitution against the Abe government’s campaign to adversely revise the Constitution and stop the policy of turning Japan into a country that wages war.
To promote a major effort to invigorate the regional economies and a mass and society-wide wage increase struggle;
To accelerate the implementation of the “national minimum wage action plan” and the reorganization of the Spring Struggle directed at demanding real wage increases from bottom up based on the cost of living;
To promote the establishment of decent work from the workplace against the Abe government’s policy of labor market collapse;
To improve social services and education;
To shift to sustainable local economies;
To take active part in the post-earthquake reconstruction, the campaign for zero nuclear plants, the campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons, and the movement to change politics to protect human rights and democracy; and
To make comprehensive efforts to build up the organization based on the revised 4-year plan.
Regarding international solidarity, the action plan proposes further developing bilateral relations and solidarity. Zenroren will not only express solidarity regarding certain issues but seek international solidarity action in which Zenroren actively taking part. It will take more active part in multilateral international efforts on certain policies and issues and work with labor NGOs, lawyers and researchers through the International Centre for Trade Union Rights (ICTUR). It will make efforts to increase information and messages on the Zenroren movement to be sent abroad. The action plan also calls for considering concrete steps toward establishing relations with international labor organizations.
Let us revitalize the organization by using the energies from the workplace and local communities
The discussion showed that many organizations are putting forward the workers’ demands clearly, revitalizing the organization by carrying out activities making use of the power of the workplace and local communities and that Zenroren-affiliated unions are playing a key role in various common actions in broadening such cross-sectional cooperation.
Delegates spoke about Zenroren unions’ participation in reconstruction efforts in the heavy rain-hit areas in western Japan. They said they are also using experiences they gained in helping in the post-disaster reconstruction in northeastern Japan that was hit by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. They shared the experiences of using SNS to distribute information about activities and experiences and lessons from the efforts to organize foreign workers. Some delegates called for strengthening the struggle for the improvement of social services and the efforts to eliminate violence and harassment, including sexual harassment, from workplaces. Some delegates pointed out the need to check workplace activities.
Declaration of the 29th Convention of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), July 28, 2018
The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) held its 29th Convention from July 26-28 amid bursting people’s anger at Prime Minister ABE Shinzo’s government which has imposed the so-called “work style reform” legislation. It goes against the historical trend by undermining the gains that have been won through more than 100 years of the workers’ struggles. The government’s aim is to make Japan into the best country in the world for business activity.
The Abe government is the worst of all post-war Japanese governments. It is rushing to adversely revise the Constitution with the aim to turn Japan into a country that can wage war. Lies and deceptions are what the Abe government is all about. It has been violating constitutional democracy and destroying democracy to railroad a series of undemocratic bills through the Diet. People’s opinion and the movement to stop the runaway Abe government are encouraging the people to participate in common action that is growing, including the “30-million signature” drive against adverse amendment of the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution. On the Korean Peninsula, a process of peacefully resolving the antagonism through dialogue and diplomacy started following historic summit talks between the United States and North Korea. Prospects are being opened for building peace in Northeast Asia by making use of Article 9. A fierce battle is underway over the future of Japan, concerning the issue whether Abe’s adverse constitutional revision should be tolerated or the Constitution must be defended.
The Zenroren Convention firstly pledged to win new advances toward a 1.5 million-strong Zenroren by putting forward workers’ demands, invigorate day-to-day union activities, and continue to promote the new 4-year buildup plan by combining efforts of federations and local communities so that all Zenroren member organizations will increase their ranks.
Secondly, given the economic gaps expanding and poverty increasing, and the communities being increasingly exhausted under the economic policy dubbed as Abenomics, the Convention confirmed the commitment to expand common action at the workplace and communities and to strengthen the struggle under the slogan “We will defend the Constitution and our livelihoods” to revitalize the communities and the struggle for wages that help in local economic development. The Convention also stressed the need to create a society in which people can earn their living by working 8 hours a day.
Thirdly, the Convention pledged to further develop cooperation with the public to prevent Article 9 from being adversely revised and to let the Constitution guide so that we can force the Abe government to step down and to put an end to the maneuvering for adverse constitutional revision. We will also make every effort to win victory in Okinawa gubernatorial and other local elections and in the House of Councilors election.
Delegates from areas affected by the recent rain disaster in western Japan spoke about a severe reality that was left by the disaster and people’s pressing needs, denouncing the Abe government’s failure to fulfill its duty to defend the lives and livelihoods.
Delegates spoke about a variety of issues and their activities in local communities and the workplace. Some of the topics that were taken up during the discussion were:
A movement by the organized union to let unorganized workers widely know about the new employment rule requiring employers to employ temporary workers as permanent workers who are up for contract renewal after 5 years of service as fixed-term employees and produced results;
An organization buildup effort to achieve the targets set by the 4-year plan;
Common action to stop the adverse work style reforms;
A movement demanding an increase in the minimum wages and establishment of a uniform national minimum wage system, using the findings of a survey on the minimum cost of living;
A movement that helped increase cooperation on efforts to revitalize local economies through enacting a local ordinance to secure fair wages for workers of public contractors;
The campaign to organize the unorganized and to realize their demands;
The 30 million signature collection campaign in local communities;
The struggle against the practical application of the War Laws and against the strengthening of US military bases in Japan;
The effort to increase solidarity with Okinawa;
The effort to activate the union youth section making use of the ‘Constitution Cafe’ initiative,” and
“Efforts to solve labor disputes.”
Zenroren will observe the 30th founding anniversary in November of the next year. It has since called for fighting together for a society full of hope for the future. It has resisted all forms of adverse winds and attacks and pursued working and living conditions for all working people.
Let us reconfirm where Zenroren was founded and expand cooperation on agreed pressing demands. Now is the time for Zenroren to do its part. Let us hold on to the slogans: Let us stop the Abe government adversely revising the Constitution! Let us achieve a society in which everyone can lead a decent life by working eight hours a day! Let us advance in organizing and in fighting to realize the various demands for all workers to open the way for a bright future! Let us build a 1.5 million-strong Zenroren as early as possible to ensure that we can win the upcoming close struggle!