Zenroren and Zenrokyo joint together to call for Extraordinary Session of the Diet and also urge Rengo to join them
The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) and the National Trade Union Council (Zenrokyo) on September 22 released a joint statement at a news conference calling for the Extraordinary Session of the Diet to be urgently convened with the aim of expanding/improving the healthcare and public health systems to protect people’s lives from the coronavirus pandemic. They are demanding the building of more public health centers, the staffing of more doctors, nurses and public health nurses, and the revocation of plans to reorganize or consolidate municipal and public hospitals.
Zenrokyo President Watanabe Hiroshi says this probably is the first joint statement to be released by the nation’s two trade union federations focusing on the healthcare and public health issues. Zenrokyo responded to a call from Zenroren for the joint statement.
The statement expressed a sense of crisis by stating, “For a year and half, even the lives that should have been saved were not saved due to the vulnerable healthcare and public health system. It went on to say that “this is not a natural disaster,” pointing out that this is a “man-made disaster” caused by the reduction of the public health centers and cutbacks on hospital beds for contagious diseases. The translated statement is below.
Zenroren President Obata Masako said, “Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide says he will concentrate on taking anti-coronavirus measures but fails to convene the Extraordinary Session of the Diet (which is called for by opposition parties). Today, as the fifth wave of infections is subsiding, the government should convene the Extraordinary Session of the Diet without delay to discuss a sufficient budget and the necessary measures. Zenrokyo President Watanabe Hiroshi said, “I hope we can use the present framework to urge the state and government and to call on the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) to join us.”
The two trade union federations plan to call on Rengo, which is to make a new start under a new leadership in this autumn, to participate in the common action in anticipation of a sixth wave of infections.
Unions call for changes in government policies to drastically expand and improve healthcare, nursing care and public health systems to save the lives of workers and citizens amid the coronavirus pandemic, and demand urgently convene Extraordinary Session of the Diet
President, National Trade Unions Council (Zenrokyo)
President, National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
September 22, 2021
Over the past year and half, amid a pandemic of the new coronavirus surging across the country, the situation has arisen over again in which “even the lives that can be saved are not saved” due to the vulnerable healthcare and public health systems.
In March, the fourth wave of the pandemic took the lives of 1,200 precious lives in Osaka. In August, when the fifth wave raged, a highly contagious “Delta variant” swept the country, a state of emergency was declared for Tokyo and 20 prefectures. In Tokyo, only 9 percent of COVID-19 patients were treated in hospitals and only 4 percent allowed to stay in designated accommodations for recuperation. Thus, many people did not have access to necessary treatment. This is an unusual situation. The number of cases of infection has topped 1.57 million and 130 people had to stay at home for recuperation. The nation’s healthcare and public health systems are reaching a breaking point.
What we are experiencing is not a natural disaster. It’s a man-made disaster caused by cutbacks in the nation’s healthcare and other social services. For example, the number of public health centers has been cut by about half to 469 in the past 30 years, and the number of beds for contagious diseases has been reduced by 80 percent to 1,758. Doctors, nurses and health nurses are being forced to endure excessively long working hours and excessively heavy workloads, the government is still pushing ahead a regionalized healthcare system by cutting the number of hospital beds and eliminating or consolidating municipal/publicly-funded hospitals.
The need now is to drastically expand and improve the nation’s healthcare, nursing care and public health systems, including those in the event of a pandemic. This requires the government to change its policy.
We demand that the government change policy to:
(1)Expand and improve the public health centers and increase the numbers of doctors, nurses, nursing care workers, and public health nurses.
(2)Revoke the list of municipal/public hospitals for possible reorganization or consolidation, and expand and improve hospital beds for contagious diseases as well as municipal/publicly hospitals.
(3)Convene the Diet session as soon as possible to discuss adequate emergency funding for coronavirus and to consider necessary policy shift.
We will join forces to increase cooperation irrespective of national affiliation to protect the workers’ and people’s lives, livelihoods, employment, and communities from the pandemic.