2004 Spring Struggle: Forum Held to Rectify Disparities
Realize Fair Business Relations/Redress Labor Condition Disparities
02 March 2004
On February 26, RENGO held a forum in order to rectify disparities at the Ikenohata Bunka Center in Tokyo. The ultimate focus of the 2004 Spring Struggle is to pump up labor conditions at small-and-medium-sized trade unions. The fact that 230 attendees, more than initially expected, gathered from affiliated organizations and local RENGOs demonstrates the high level of interest in small-and-medium-sized / local unions at this Spring Struggle.
At the forum, Deputy Director Nakada of Fair Trade Division at the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency Business Environment Department, one branch of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Investment (METI), spoke on "Revision and Outline of the Act against Delaying Payment of Subcontract Proceeds, etc. to Subcontractors (Subcontract Act)." RENGO Research Institute for the Advancement of Living Standards (RENGO-RIALS) Director General Nakanomyo spoke about "Why has the Recovery of Small-and-Medium-Sized Businesses Stalled?" Participants gained a deeper understanding of the various legislation realizing fair trade relations in addition to the data behind the rectification of disparities.
Finally, RENGO Department of Working Conditions Executive Director Suga encouraged participants for the upcoming full-scale negotiations by saying "we want you to push ahead with your activities while keeping in mind that small-and-medium-sized trade unions will decide their own working conditions by themselves," and then closed the forum.
Photo: Participants eagerly listen to the talks given at the Ikenohata Bunka Center on February 26th.
RENGO Assistant General Secretary Kubota in his speech said, “Let this Spring Struggle be one that will end widening wage disparities and maintain or even raise bottom level wages.” Several talks followed.
Deputy Director Nakada of Fair Trade Division at the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency Business Environment Department of the METI gave a talk on the outline and revision of the Act against Delaying Payment of Subcontract Proceeds, etc. to Subcontractors (Subcontract Act) which was revised last year. The “Act against Delaying Payment of Subcontract Proceeds, etc. to Subcontractors (Subcontract Act)” is a law for the purpose of fair subcontracting business as well as for protecting the interests of subcontractors. To this point, the law covers such things as the regulation of unfair acts by parent employers regarding delays in payment etc., when conducting subcontract businesses deals in the manufacturing and maintenance of goods.
Nakata explained that the law was revised in such items so as to reflect existing conditions over the past few years including a trend toward rapid expansion of the service industry sector and the service/information-oriented economy, adding subcontract businesses regarding service, improving rules regarding the period to furnish documents, adding prohibitive acts by parent employers, strengthening measures against prohibitive acts, and raising penalty fees. (For more details see the Japan Fair Trade Commission’s webpage at http://www2.jftc.go.jp/e-page/index.htm
Afterwards, RENGO Research Institute for the Advancement of Living Standards (RENGO-RIALS) Director General Nakanomyo spoke on the theme “Why Has the Recovery of Small-and-Medium-Sized Businesses Stalled?” He gave an overview of the present economic current and the delayed economic recovery of small-and-medium-sized businesses, as well as disparities in working conditions for workers in small to mid-sized businesses.
Moreover, he offered three factors that would turn around the performance of small-and-medium-sized businesses toward recovery. (1) Stimulate personal consumption while exports are still strong in order to bring about real recovery. (2) Continue to finance small-and-medium-sized businesses through policy actions. (3) Small-and-medium-sized businesses should have strong advantages for major businesses. His remarks reacquainted attendees with the reasons for why disparities are expanding and taught them that it is important to rectify such disparities.
Finally, RENGO Department of Working Conditions Executive Director Suga ended the forum by encouraging participants in upcoming negotiations by saying “we want you to push ahead with your activities while keeping in mind that small to mid-sized labor unions will decide their own labor conditions by themselves.”