"We want to work with dignity and respect"
March 10 contingent, youth and women workers action

The issue of part-time workers is a focus of social attention. On March 10, young people and women workers, including many part-timers, took part in a major national action in Tokyo calling for equal treatment for part-time workers.

Amid rain, participants made representations to the Diet and the labor ministry as well as the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren).

About 2,500 people attended the main rally at the Hibiya Amphitheater. Korean Contingent Workers' Center (KCWC) Planning Director Kim Ju-hwan and South Korean labor attorney Yun Yeo-lim attended the rally.

KUMAGAI Kanemichi, National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) president, spoke on behalf of the organizers calling for "more emphasis to be put on achieving equal treatment of all contingent workers and for an increased effort to winning pay raises for all workers in the Spring Struggle."

NAKAOKA Motoaki, secretary general of the National Council of Trade Unions (Zenrokyo), KOIKE Akira, Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Councilors, and the two South Korean guests gave their speeches in solidarity.

The rally was colored by yellow happi-coats of Osaka Part-timers' Liaison Council members who presented a parody of a popular local folk song. Zenroren women's section members presented a comic skit, and Zenroren youth section members and Home Care Workers' Network members also gave performance in solidarity.

Close the gap

After adopting an appeal, Zenroren youth section members marched the Ginza shopping district in demonstration, while women's section members took to the Diet.

SUZUKI Kikue of the Tochigi Co-op Workers' Union said, "I participated in the rally because I wanted to get the gap closed between parti-timers and full-time workers by pushing for equal treatment and an overall pay raise."

TERASAWA Hiroyuki of the youth section of the General Federation of Printing and Publishing Workers Union (Zen'in-soren) said, "I am participating in this rally thanks to my colleague who is now working on my behalf. Though we are paid for overtime work but not compensated for mental health treatment. It is no surprising for anyone to fall ill."

NISHIMURA Ritsuko of the Construction, Transport and General Workers' Union (Kenkoro) said, "In the Spring Struggle, we will put forward a unified demand for benefits for maternity leave for contract workers. We also demand that contract workers and part-timers be given the right to take holidays for making a refreshing change."

Korean Contingent Workers' Center delegate greets to April 4 rally in Tokyo (gist)

In South Korea, 56% of the nation's workers are contingent workers, who are without job security and paid only half the salaries for full-time workers. The solution of this problem is indispensable for the future of the South Korean labor movement.

On March 3, 190,000 took part in a general strike in protest against the government proposal for a bill that will affect contingent workers. Contrary to the government explanation that the legislation was aimed at protecting contingent workers, its real aim was to encourage companies to employ more contingent workers. The government bill is being blocked.

We are developing the movement not only to stop the bill. We are fighting to defend the contingent workers' basic labor rights. We have realized how important it is for workers to become self-reliant through this struggle.

Regardless of what the government will say or do, we will go on another general strike on April 4.

In our view, South Korean President Roh Muhyung's criticism of Prime Minister Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni shrine is just another political performance. True peace in Asia can come by along with the defense of contingent workers' rights. (Zenroren, March 15, 2006)