Zenroren protests hasty conclusion of Diet debate on bill to amend the Act on Promotion of Women’s Participation and Advancement in the Workplace and demands revision that is effective for realization of gender equality, elimination of harassment
Statement by NOMURA Yukihiro, Secretary General
National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
May 29, 2019
The bill to amend the Act on Promotion of Women’s Participation and Advancement in the Workplace became law after passage by the House of Councilors on May 29. Power harassment has been defined by law for the first time, reflecting strong public interest in regulating harassment. But it fails to define it as a violation of human rights. The law does not specify any provisions for acts prohibited. It only requires employers to take prevention measures even though such a provision has proven to be ineffective for sexual harassment or “maternity harassment”. In addition, the law does not specify any punitive actions that can be taken against harassment. The amended provisions are too weak to fulfill the functions to relieve those workers who are under harassment.
An ILO survey in 2018 found that 60 out of 80 countries surveyed legally prohibits harassment. Japan is the only G7 member to have no law to prohibit harassment. At a time when the ILO is set to adopt the Convention and Recommendation on the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work at its annual conference in June, the Diet cut short the deliberation of the bill and rushed to a vote in disregard of the serious demands of the workers and the people. Zenroren strongly protsts about the impetuous act.
It’s been 40 years since the United Nations adopted the?Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women?(CEDAW). Japan is ranked 149th place in the Global Gender Gap Index. This means that Japan is far from being a country in which women can participate and advance in the workplace. In fact, the Japanese government has been repeatedly advised by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to outlaw sexual harassment.
Even as the bill was being discussed in the Diet, there were reports about students being harassed during their job hunting. Also, cases of serious harassment of health care and nursing care workers were exposed. The Japanese Nursing Association has called for controlling patients’ or users’ harassment of nurses and care workers. Thus, public opinion demanding the elimination of all forms of harassment has been growing. Given that harassment poses so serious a problem that damages workers’ health and even threatens their lives, the establishment of a law that comprehensively prohibits harassment is emerging as a matter of urgency.
In the course of Diet debate, the House of Representatives Committee on Health and Labor and Welfare adopted a 17-point supplementary resolution, and the House of Councilors Committee on Health, Labor and Welfare a 21-point supplementary resolution. The bill’s problems that were pointed out by these resolutions must not be put on the back burner. The task now is to begin to consider including important indexes such as gender wage gap in the data items and to establish a ban on harassment by legislation.
Zenroren demands that effective rules be established to ban harassment in ministerial decrees and guidelines to be developed following the enactment of the law. It also calls on member unions to use their bargaining power to realize gender equality and the elimination of harassment in the workplace. Zenroren will increase the movement toward establishing laws that would help ratify the ILO Convention and Recommendation that is to be adopted in June.