Zenroren 30th Convention was held in July, elected first women President
Winning new advances of Zenroren Movement based on worker solidarity with citizens’ movement
Zenroren 30th Convention
July 29-30, 2020
The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) held its 30th Convention from July 29-30 in Tokyo. The delegates met online due to the spread of coronavirus throughout Japan. Confirming what Zenroren has achieved over the last 30 years since its founding, delegates from around the country discussed ways to win a leap in the Zenroren movement in a new era and achieve a 1.5 million-strong national confederation. Forty-one delegates took part in the discussion, including by writing. The Convention adopted proposed resolutions and elected a new leadership led by new President Obata Masako and new Secretary General Kurosawa Koichi.
Morita Shinobu, a vice president, declared the Convention open. President Odagawa Yoshikazu spoke on behalf of the Executive Committee about the Zenroren movement in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Referring to the 1995 disaster caused by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, and the 2011 Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, Odagawa said we can develop a new movement amid the coronavirus pandemic based on worker-citizen solidarity. He called on the delegates to elaborate a course of action toward ending the social structure that puts the economy first and building a new society that is based on the dignity of individuals and social solidarity. He called for discussion on (1) Ending as soon as possible Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s political rule, (2) Developing a struggle in view of the failure of neoliberal policies and the ongoing global exploration of a new society, (3) Combining opposition to constitutional revision and the effort to block the government’s move to propose constitutional revision with a struggle to stop a major arms buildup, and (4) Zenroren’s organizational buildup.
Secretary General Nomura Yukihiro explained proposed resolutions, including the draft Action Plan for 2020-2021, the report on activity, the new 4-Year Plan, the Minimum Wage Action Plan.
A struggle to end pandemic early with a view to building a society in post-pandemic world
The Action Plan points out that a series of disasters and the new coronavirus pandemic have revealed the vulnerability of the Japanese economy and society. It stresses that the vulnerability has been caused by the fallacious economic policy dubbed as “Abenomics” and by a structural reform policy that weakened the public sector’s services, undermining the healthcare services and the public health systems. The Action Plan calls for a struggle to bring an end to the pandemic at the earliest possible time with a view to building a society in the post-pandemic world. It puts forward three key tasks the Zenroren movement should address: (1) Invigorate day-to-day activities, focusing on organizing efforts as the most important task; (2) Change society to enable everyone to lead a decent life by working 8 hours a day; and (3) Block the Abe government’s attempt to adversely revise the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution, and further help to raise public awareness and promote joint efforts to defend the Constitution, forcing the Abe government to step down. The Action Plan cites 11 most important tasks. The Action Plan is accompanied by two additional documents: the “4-year organizing plan for 2020-2023” and the “Action plan for national uniform minimum wage 2024.”
Call for three actions to defense people’s livelihoods, jobs and local community
An action plan for the upcoming autumn offensive was also discussed. It calls for three actions for the September-December period to defend people’s lives, livelihoods, jobs, and local community in order to change the way the economy and society work to put the rights and better living standards of the people first in the midst of coronavirus pandemic, a historic difficulty facing the world: (i) Action to defend jobs and livelihoods, and win compensation for business closure/forced leave of absence; (ii) Action to demand drastic improvement and expansion of public systems for healthcare service and administrative work, and (iii) Action in opposition to cutbacks in wages, bonuses, and minimum wages. The Action is to be held with all union members participating.
Forty-one delegates took part in the discussion, including 28 people speaking online and 13 submitting their papers. Most of these delegates were full of confidence as they referred to organizing efforts through labor consultations and growing public awareness that we learned from a survey on the minimum cost of living.
On the second day of the Convention (July 30), Secretary General Nomura Yukihiro summed up the discussion. The Convention adopted all proposals, including resolutions, the Convention Declaration, and the Convention Slogans by a majority.
Odagawa Yoshikazu was replaced by Obata Masako, and Nomura Yukihiro by Kurosawa Koichi as secretary general.
New Zenroren president’s speech
President of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
Zenroren’s 30th Convention has marked a historic milestone that opens a new movement based on the confederation’s 30-year history. The proposals and interventions made clear that the failure of neoliberal policies is evident in the present coronavirus pandemic and that the urgent call for changing away from it is arising from the crisis.
Since I am the president of the Central Executive Committee of the All Japan Teachers and Staffs Union (Zenkyo) I might be allowed to speak as an educator. We have for 30 years called for smaller class sizes at all levels of school to provide meticulous education ensuring the healthy growth and development of every child. This demand is gaining public support and influencing the government at a time when improvement of class environment is a pressing task because the need now is to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection by making classes less crowded.
It has become clear from our discussion in the Convention that in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and in view of building a society in the post-pandemic world, fighting to win the demands that have been called for by Zenroren is very important, which include improving medical services and the local public health centers, realizing a society in which everyone can live a decent life by working 8 hours a day, and raising the minimum wage to 1,500 yen per hour everywhere in the country.
The business sector and the government are clinging to their neoliberal policies. They even take advantage of the coronavirus crisis to impose various measures in their favor. We are in an era of confrontation.
It’s time to give Zenroren full play. We will work together with prefectural organizations which take root in all prefectures and with the national industrial federations to confidently develop our movement with conviction in our demands. The next two years will be a very important period in which we must take on the task of overcoming the coronavirus crisis and realizing a society that will protect the lives and livelihoods of the workers and the general public based on the Constitution. The new Zenroren leadership is tasked to fulfill its responsibility in this important period. Confirming the meaning of our election to the leadership at this time, all the elected officials will do all they can with Zenroren-affiliated union members.