Zenroren womenfs Committee
Zenroren held 25th Convention
The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) held its 25th Convention from July 21-23 in Tokyo. The main slogan was "Let the Constitution guide to eliminate poverty and economic inequalities, change workplaces and local communities, and let peace prevail in this world." The Convention was attended by 565 people, including 335 delegates from 66 organizations, 11 special delegates from four organizations. Women delegates accounted for 20.29 percent.
KIHARA Hideko (All Japan Teachers and Staff Union - Zenkyo)
On 'working poor' in the public sector
The number of the nation's non full-time teachers has increased to 200,000 in the last 10 years. In fact these 200,000 non full-time teachers constitute an essential component in supporting the country's education. Why so many non full-time teachers? The financial circles' labor policy of increasing the number of non full-time workers with the aim of helping to increase Japan's international competitiveness has been introduced to schools. Instead of increasing the number of full-time teachers on state responsibility, the government encouraged public schools to hire low-paid part-time teachers. As a result, the number of non full-time teachers, who earn an annual income of only 1,200,000 yen, has sharply increased. At an elementary school in Saitama Prefecture, seven out of 28 homeroom teachers are part-time teachers. They teach on a contract for five hours of work a day. Some of them earn no more than 800,000 yen a year. The use of cheap labor in education forces children to bear the burden. For example, children are unable to ask questions after school.
If we are to provide necessary education to all children without fail, it is absolutely necessary to reduce the class size to 30 pupils on state responsibility and increase the number of regular full-time teachers. On July 12, the government Central Council for Education published a report proposing improving the class size, initiating government action on this issue. In the signature campaign for a smaller class size, Zenkyo has collected 380,000,000 signatures in the last 20 years and produced the result. In December, we will hold a symposium on this issue. We will continue to work to win broader public support for the demand that there should be no temporary jobs in schools.
Teachers are forced to work excessively long hours. Their workloads are extraordinary. In a school in Chiba Prefecture, the last punch-out of the day was at 3:00 am, and the first punch-in was 4:00 am. It is not rare that teachers work on Saturday and Sunday. A survey shows that the Japanese teachersf average number of working hours is 100 days longer than the average of OECD countries. The number of teachers who take a long-time leave of absence due to health problems is increasing year after year. Sixty-three percent of them suffer from mental illness. One of its causes is the prevalence of power harassment, which is in violation of human rights. Teachers complain about being hit in the head in the presence of other teachers or students, about being yelled and told to get away, and about being told by senior teachers to overcome morning sickness with motivation. These are some of the examples of how teachers are denied their characters. We need guidelines or ordinances established in order to prevent power harassment. Does your workplace have guidelines to prevent power harassment? Last year, some prefectures began to formulate such guidelines, including Hyogo, Wakayama, Toyama and Saga prefectures. This year, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Yamaguchi and Fukui are working on their guidelines. The National Personnel Authorityfs guideline for preventing power harassment and other similar prefectural guidelines are being used for union negotiations with the authorities. These efforts are having effects. I hope work on this issue will further develop as one of the most important issues.
In June, the Law concerning the Welfare of Workers Who Take Care of Children or Other Family Members Including Child Care and family Care Leave was revised. Under the revised law, the father and mother can simultaneously take a child care leave or choose a shorter work day for child care. This makes it easier for male workers to participate in child care. However, very few teachers use the right. Many are forced to work excessively long hours and are unable to devote themselves to child rearing. In particular, male workers are reluctant to take a child care leave because they are afraid that such a leave may affect their wages and promotion. This shows that there are too many hurdles for male teachers to overcome if they are to take a child care leave. But, there will be no progress without trying to use the right.
A male teacher, who took child care leave for one year, said, gWhile I was on a child care leave, I had time to think about future life, work, and my relations with children and wife. I had a happy time. As there are no differences between men and women in public service, anyone can use the child care leave if they have the will.h He also said that his children never felt out of place while spending all day long with father. He was encouraged and warmly backed by his colleagues. One colleague gave him a cooking book. It is very important to make a workplace in which teachers can exercise various rights.