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NEWS: Zenroren makes representations to labor ministry

Government should rewrite budget to spend more money to directly support people’s livelihoods and business

Zenroren President Obata Masako visits labor ministry

February 18, 2021

The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) is requesting the government to rewrite its fiscal 2021 budget (Apr. 2021-Mar. 2022) to meet the needs of the people in need due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Zenroren President Obata Masako and other key officials on February 18 met State Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Mihara Junko at the ministry office. They requested that the government recompile its FY2021 budget focusing on funding more for the pressing needs, including money to help medical institutions make up for revenue shortfalls, extend and increase temporary measures to support people affected by business closures, increase the unemployment benefits, and directly provide financial support to maintain the living and business.

From Zenroren, Deputy Secretary-general Fuse Keisuke, Director of the Women and Social Security Bureau Terazono Michie, Director of the Employment and Labor Laws Bureau Ito Keiichi attended the meeting.

In the meeting, Obata noted that the ministry on its webpage published a positive message that “people have the right to rely on the livelihood protection program.” She called for the budget to be recompiled, stressing that the government should increase direct financial aid to women and other workers, people in need, and small- and medium-sized businesses in financial crunch while reconsidering the defense spending and non-essential large-scale public works projects. She also expressed concerns about the media report that a large number of non-permanent employees at “Hello Work” (the public employment security office) are to be denied renewal of contract at the end of March.

Other participants in the meeting also spoke. They said:

“Although the COVID-19 vaccination has begun for healthcare professionals, a safe and secure system must be established to proceed with the vaccination. Many medical institutions are facing financial crunch, making it difficult for them to establish preparedness to administer the vaccine without government compensation for making up for revenue shortfalls”;

“The government has decided to improve the way the money is used to help workers facing shift cuts but the improvement does not go well in many local areas”;

“The government has decided that the money to help people facing business closures should also go to contingent workers at large companies, but it is trying to reduce the compensation rate. The government should not discriminate against them,” and;

“About a half of those who came to a year-end and New Year consultation had less than 10,000 yen (about 95 US dollars). But they are reluctant to live on the welfare program mainly because local government welfare officials may inquire into applicants’ relatives who might support them.”

The state minister said, “The ministry will continue to place importance on healthcare and nursing services. Financial support to healthcare services may have to be continued beyond the third supplementary budget (for the current fiscal year ending in March). Ending the spread of the coronavirus should be of foremost importance, which in turn will help healthcare professionals at medical institutions.”

She also said, “I would like to accept your feelings. I hear that contingent workers, single-parent families, and many women are experiencing hardships. I want to help them solve their problems.”

The meeting was also attended by Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Councilors Kurabayashi Akiko.

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