To strengthen regional organizations is a key to developing Zenroren movement
-- Bring down sectional fences

ZENROREN held a national conference in Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture, on November 10-12 with 314 participants from local and regional organizations to share experiences and ideas.

Kanemichi KUMAGAI, ZENROREN President, gave a keynote speech at the opening plenary session, followed by workshop discussions on three themes: (1) How to develop local struggles to defend the Constitution; (2) How to develop the local organizing effort; and (3) The present state of regions and ways to increase local movements. ZENROREN leaders proposed discussion points for respective workshops.

In the closing plenary, reporters designated at the respective workshops informed participants characteristic features of the movement, convincing them of the importance of local movements.

Keynote speech By KUMAGAI Kanemichi (ZENROREN President)

ZENROREN President KUMAGAI Kanemichi began the keynote speech by stressing the importance of recognizing that ZENROREN has organizational feature that connects places of work with community movements. He said that at a time when the government in the name of "structural reform" is imposing undemocratic policies that force the people to bear burdens more while large corporations' outrageous behavior is left at large, the key to advancing the workers' struggle to achieve their keen demands is to organize concerted actions at the national level and increase the nationwide common struggle based on common actions at local levels involving both the public and private sectors. He said that the role of local movements is more important than ever in building the foundation for a national movement.

He called for this year's meeting to be devoted first of all to the struggle to defend the Constitution, and secondly to the effort to achieve organizational growth and invigorate the movement.

Mobilize workers to community movements

Kumagai said many workers are talking about a number of phenomena that make it increasingly difficult for workers to have hope for their future: wage cuts, the abolition of the regular basic wage rise, the prolonged economic slowdown; industrial and business restructuring and reorganization; the introduction of the bidding system that gives the private sector access to the public sector administrative works; and attacks on government and other public service workers.

He went on to say: "These problems remind us that all workers, irrespective of private and public sectors, need to join forces regardless of the differences of places of work or employers. The need now is for us to learn from history. The solidarity and unity of workers gives us strength. The trade union can display its worth only when it struggles. Without struggling, the trade union cannot win jobs or the future of their workplaces. This is important if we are to invigorate the trade union movement. This should be the way to increase the ranks of local and regional organizations and to encourage workers and their movement."

Importance of increasing regional organizations

Noting that the wages and working conditions of unstable and non-regular employment workers are affected by market prices in their respective regions, Kumagai said that local organizations and movements have a very important role to play raising the low standard of their wages and working conditions.

Stressing that this effort needs stronger regional organizations, he said that industrial unions should take active part in regional organizations by combining the effort to strengthen union organizations in places of work and the effort to build up regional organizations as the foundation of the movement.

President Kumagai finally called for a lively discussion to contribute to developing local movements that are the treasure of the ZENROREN movement.

Joint Committee for the Spring Struggle holds its annual General assembly

The People's Spring Struggle Joint Committee held its general meeting on October 26 to discuss the plan for the 2006 Spring Struggle and elected new board members. Seventy-seven representatives of 27 industrial unions and four local organizations took part in the meeting. The discussion focused on the analysis of the changes that took place in the aftermath of the House of Representatives general election on September 11, 2005 and on the tasks of the 2006 Spring Struggle.

ZENROREN president KUMAGAI Kanemichi spoke on behalf of the Joint Committee in the capacity of its board member. He criticized the Koizumi government for imposing the "structural reform" policy that leads to the massive impoverishment and the widening gap between the billionaires and the poor.

He stressed that the 2006 Spring Struggle should concentrate on the demand for higher wages, in particular the struggle to win wage increases for part-time and other contingent workers and their equal treatment.

IWATA Yukio, Secretary General of the Joint Committee, proposed the "Basic Plan of
Action for the 2006 People's Spring Struggle."