On Labor Policy Council’s representation on measures to promote the project to encourage women to play a greater role in society and measures against power harassment
Statement by Secretary General NOMURA Yukihiro
National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
December 18, 2018
The Labor Policy Council’s commission on employment situation and equal opportunity in the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on December 14 compiled a report on “measures to promote women’s greater professional roles and prevent power harassment.” The council commission submitted it to Health, Labor and Welfare Minister NEMOTO Takumi.
The report falls short of the needs of the public’s call and movement for the elimination of harassment, of the effort being made toward the adoption of an ILO convention as well as of the needs of the many workers who are suffering from harassment. Regrettably, it is indeed inadequate.
On the Act on Promotion of Women's Participation and Advancement in the Workplace, the report says that businesses employing 101 to 300 workers should be required to come up with an action plan and to disclose information about the matter. That may lead to some progress in dealing with the issue but will not lead to far-reaching improvement. Effective measures are needed to rectify the gender pay gap or end excessively long working hours. Also, laws to comprehensively prohibit gender discrimination need to be enacted.
Establishing laws for measures against harassment is a matter of great interest among many workers irrespective of gender. It has been called for by many organizations. But the commission’s report stopped short of responding to the workers’ pressing needs.
First of all, in defining the commission’s basic concept, the report says that harassment is an “act that affects human rights and therefore intolerable”. But it stopped short of calling for “legislation of measures to prevent power harassment.” As regards the sexual harassment issue, it’s been 20 years since employers were required to take preventive measures under the Equal Employment Opportunity Law. But it is not able to get rid of victims of sexual harassment. With this fact, it is clear that harassment cannot be eliminated just by requiring employers to take preventive measures.
The need now is to establish laws about rules banning harassment and anti-harassment measures. But the present commission report postpones establishing laws to ban or impose sanctions on harassment on the grounds that it would take medium to long-term discussion to do it. But it is important to establish laws to give relief to workers who are having difficulty dealing with harassment instead of ignoring them over a medium to long term period.
Secondly, it is necessary to define the scope of acts of harassment in line with the international standards.
In defining harassment, such acts committed by customers/users should be included. It should cover victims among all workers, regular fulltime workers as well as contingent workers, freelancers, trainees, workers whose job contracts have expired, job seekers and applicants, and those people under job training.
Thirdly, in order to ensure the effectiveness of measures to prevent harassment, labor administration authorities should establish the necessary structure with sufficient personnel. This is clear from the fact that only 135 out of 7,000 complaints have been dealt with by labor authorities. The need now is to establish an authoritative agency that can issue appropriate orders for relief for harassment, one that is accessible by harassment victims.
Fourthly, the next year’s International Labor Conference is to adopt an international convention ending violence and harassment in the world of work. Japanese law must be effective enough to ratify the ILO convention.
These are four items that Zenroren calls for in drafting a bill based on the proposal of the commission of the Labor Policy Council.
Many workers are still forced to endure harassment in the workplace. Some people feel they have no one to seek help from and are forced to quit their jobs. In the upcoming Spring Struggle, Zenroren call for the elimination of harassment as a key issue and demand the government establish effective laws while promoting conclusion of labor agreements that include the issue of harassment as part of the effort to make workplaces harassment-free.