One after another unions hold their conventions

JMIU determines to defend workers' rights

On July 19 and 20, the All Japan Metal and Information Machinery Workers' Union (JMIU) held its 32nd annual convention in Shizuoka Prefecture and decided to make full use of the Constitution in its struggles to defend workers' rights and strengthen its activities to defend the Constitution.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the JMIU.

President Ikuma Shigemi announced that the JMIU will support the "Article 9 Committee" which was organized by nine public figures last month in opposition to an adverse revision of the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.

JMIU Secretary Miki Ryoichi stated the need to increase efforts to establish rules in the workplace, achieve a base wage increase, and oppose an adverse revision of the labor laws.

The JMIU decided to continue to work for the establishment of labor-management relations based on cooperation and consensus. Specifically, it will focus on setting up a structure to analyze the state of companies as part of its efforts to protect workers from irresponsible restructuring.

A representative of the JMIU Kitamura Valve branch reported that a co-worker who was dismissed because of his rejection of a transfer to a distant location joined the union to protest against the corporate order, forcing the company to withdraw the dismissal.

JMIU (All Japan Metal and Information Machinery Workers' Union)

The JMIU is a nationwide union of workers in the metal and communication industries, including electrical machinery, steel, and auto manufacturers as well as computer and software makers. Affiliated to the National Confederation of Trade Unions (ZENROREN), it has about 300 branches at small and medium-sized companies as well as major corporations, including IBM Japan, Nissan Motor Co., and Nikon Corp.

In order to defend workers' rights and establish rules in the workplace, the JMIU is striving to build labor-management relations based on "agreement and cooperation."

The JMIU recognizes the support of anti-nuclear and peace activities as one of its important tasks. Peace actions the union has conducted recently include the adoption of the statement in protest against the Iraq war, a signature campaign in opposition to the wartime legislation, and organizing a delegation to the annual World Conference against A & H Bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Hospital workers' union decides to increase struggle to stop measures to undermine medical services

Nurses and other health workers in their union convention resolved to stop the government attempt to increase cuts in medical and other social services, and expressed their rejection of the use of medical services for war.

The 175,000-strong Japan Federation of Medical Workers' Unions (Nihon-Iroren) held its annual convention on July 22-24 in Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture.

A delegate spoke about her participation in the struggle to successfully block a hospital closure plan in cooperation with local residents.

Another delegate said that the number of part-time and other non-regular employees are increasing at hospitals and related facilities, and that the union has organized some of these workers.

An action program unanimously adopted at the convention called for more efforts to foil the Koizumi Cabinet's attempt to adversely revise the Constitution and to give full play to union activities to safeguard people's lives and health.

It criticized in particular the Liberal-Democratic Party government for forcing insured workers to pay 30 percent of medical costs from 2003, transforming state-run hospitals into independent administrative corporations from April 2004, and for planning to allow stock companies to run hospitals.

"We must devote our hearts and energy to protecting citizens' rights to receive medical treatment," emphasized Tanaka Chieko, Nihon-Iroren chair.

Teachers union holds 21st convention

The All Japan Teachers and Staff Union (Zenkyo) held its 21st Congress July 23-25 in Chiba Prefecture and adopted a special resolution calling for cooperation among teachers, staff, parents, communities, and people in defending the Constitution and the Fundamental Law of Education.

Delegates shared the view that the Koizumi Cabinet in the name of "structural reform" wants to abolish governmental subsidies to public schools and use "educational reform" to intensify the competition that focuses on creating future elites and patriots.

Zenkyo President Ishimoto Iwao pointed out that the present tendency toward a "two-party system" is aimed at adversely changing the Constitution and the Fundamental Law of Education in order to make the nation and people capable of fighting in wars.

Participants agreed to promote a major campaign to establish schools that allow children's participation in cooperation with parents and communities.

In the discussion, a teacher from Tokyo reported that Tokyo's Board of Education punished a large number of teachers on the grounds that they were against the "Kimigayo" and the "Hinomaru" flag at school. He added that backed by a mounting call for a student-centered ceremony, students at one high school made their own graduation ceremony a success without hoisting the "Hinomaru".

Zenkyo is an affiliate of ZENROREN.

Private railway unions pledge to prevent constitutional revision

The General Federation of Private Railway Workers' Unions of Japan (Shitetsu-soren) in its 71st regular convention held on August 4 in Takayama City in Gifu Prefecture called on the unions to lead the struggle to prevent the Constitution from being adversely revised.

It is rather extraordinary for the federation affiliated with the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), which is under the strong influence of the Democratic Party of Japan, to propose such a struggle.

Shitetsu-soren was established in 1947 when the Constitution came in force. Apprehending the recent fast moves toward constitutional revision, the Shitetsu-soren chair called for a struggle to prevent it by arousing public opinion opposing it.

He said that trade unions must not act only for better working conditions but also for changing the social structure for the better. He said that the federation will also call for the Self-Defense Forces to be withdrawn from Iraq and for the Iraqi occupation to end.

Municipal workers unions resolve to defend peace and oppose structural reform policy

The Japan Federation of Prefectural and Municipal Workers' Unions (Jichiroren) held its 26th regular convention for three days from August 23 in Otsu City in Shiga Prefecture.

The federation of local government employees is affiliated with the National Confederation of Trade Unions (ZENROREN).

In his opening speech, Komaba Tadachika, Jichiroren President, warned that Japan now stands at the brink of becoming a major war-capable country and a fiercely competitive society completely ruled by the law of the jungle. He called for workers' utmost efforts to prevent constitutional revision.

The federation proposed a policy of action to oppose the "structural reform" policy of the Koizumi Cabinet and defend livelihoods, local self-government, and the war-renouncing Constitution.

During the discussion at the convention, a delegate from Osaka reported about a city's movement, supported by citizens, to maintain the independent school lunch system instead of outsourcing the lunch to private caterers. A Saitama delegate said that the prefecture had allowed private companies to enter the pre-school child market.

The participants agreed on the need to oppose government moves to impose mergers of cities, towns, and villages.

On August 25, the convention adopted with an overwhelming majority the policy of opposing structural reform.

Matsumoto Toshihiro, acting secretary general, before closing the session stressed that the discussions brought to light that trade unions have no cause other than struggling for people's well-being.

Telecommunication workers resolve to defend Article 9 of Constitution and increase opposition to NTT corporate restructuring

The Telecommunication Industrial Workers' Union (Tsushin-roso) held its annual convention for three days from August 28 in Osaka City and adopted an action plan that calls for the defense of the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution as top item on its agenda. It also decided to increase opposition to the ongoing large-scale anti-worker corporate restructuring at NTT, and to increase the union's membership.

In the opening speech, President Iwasaki Takashi called on the 200,000 workers of NTT, the nation's largest private company, to set up a grassroots-based "Article 9 Committee" and take part in its activities from their places of work, residences and neighborhoods.

Referring to the fact that last year's NTT profit increased to 1.5 trillion yen mainly due to corporate restructuring, he proposed to rouse public criticism of NTT for such a way of streamlining at the cost of workers.

In pursuing massive corporate restructuring, NTT has urged workers to choose whether retiring at 50 years at their age or being rehired by subsidiaries at 30% or more reduced wages, distant transfers and transfers to other types of jobs.

The Tsushin-roso consists of workers of NTT group companies and its affiliates, and is affiliated with ZENROREN.

Construction, transport and general workers union resolve to struggle against war and poverty

All Japan Construction, Transport and General Workers Union (Kenkoro, or CTG) held its 6th regular convention for 3 days from August 28 in Ito city in Shizuoka prefecture.

President Sakata Shinsaku emphasized the need to base their struggle on defending the Constitution and fight against unemployment, poverty, and Japan going to war.

Delegates discussed the increasing replacement of full-time workers by part-timers and contingent workers on short-term contracts and grass-roots activity to organize these unstable workers.

The convention closed on August 30 after resolving to promote efforts to oppose constitutional revision and to bring victory to the pending lawsuits over the reinstatement of dismissed former Japan National Railway workers and also tunnel workers' lung disease.

Take actions for higher minimum wages and better social security systems: General Workers' Union

The National Union of General Workers' Union affiliated with ZENROREN (Zenroren-Zenkokuippan) held its 16th National Convention from August 27-29 in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, under the slogan: "Let the Constitution guide our life and work and build a Japan in which everyone can have a peaceful and humane life."

President Ohki Hisashi in the opening speech said that common action demanding an increase in the regional minimum wage has increased in many parts of the country and actually achieved a raise in 44 regions. He also reported that 1,200 workers joined the union in the past year.

The discussion focused on ways to prevent an adverse revision of the Constitution, win higher regional minimum wages, and better social security systems.

A delegate from Kanagawa Prefecture neighboring to Tokyo who participated in the convention for the first time said, "I'm happy to be able to finally attend the convention." He, together with 700 parents, held a "meeting on child care" in his town, and collected more than 30,000 signatures calling for better child care services. In the course of the campaigns, his branch increased its membership to 162 from 100.

A delegate from Hiroshima spoke about a workers' meeting in his workplace in opposition to an adverse revision of the national pension system. He said that the meeting, attended by all the workers including non-union members, adopted a resolution against the pension revision. What's more, they won a raise of their basic wage.

Activities of newly-established unions were also presented. Delegates from Saitama and Chiba prefectures reported on their success in expanding their organizations. A delegate from Miyagi Prefecture in northern Japan reported that they held a meeting with representatives of ZENROREN and Rengo (the Japanese Confederation of Trade Unions), with the aim of preventing a large wage cut. Eighty percent of the workers expressed support for ZENROREN and decided to join the Zenroren-Zenkoku-ippan, leading to getting their demands met, including the issue of wages.

A driving school instructors' union in Osaka had a worker employed as a contract worker who fought against a corporate closure. The union concluded an agreement with the management to the effect that new workers be promoted to regular workers after three years' performance. Then, those new workers joined Zenroren-Zenkoku-ippan one after another.