‘3.8 International Women’s Day Central Rally’

Appeal for Male/Female Wage Disparity Rectification

17 March 2004
On March 8th, RENGO held International Women's Day activities across the nation, including the "3.8 International Women's Day Central Rally" at the Japan Education Center Hall in Tokyo. Reports on specific activities to rectify wage disparities between men and women workers were announced at the rally. Further, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions–Asia and Pacific Regional Organisation (ICFTU-APRO) Women's Department Director Song Kyungjin and NPO Dispatched Labor Network President (attorney-at-law) Mami Nakano, each addressed the audience on the themes of "Gender and Employment Equality from an International Perspective" and "What Should Trade Unions Do Now for Radical Revision of the Equal Employment Act" (Law to secure Equal Opportunity and Treatment between Men and Women in Employment). Each and every one of the 800 male and female participants committed themselves to the goals of "rectifying wage disparities between men and women" and "realizing equal treatment for part-time workers and others" as a first step toward progress.

RENGO General Secretary Kusano explained that at the ongoing Spring Struggle, which is now entering its peak, the major issues are the “rectification of differentials among workers at small-and-medium-sized and local trade unions,” “rectification of working condition disparities between men and women,” “raising the status of and improving working conditions for atypical workers,” and “supporting a balance between working and family lives.” He then went on to state that “we want to work with all of our might for a drastic revision of the Law to Secure Equal Opportunity and Treatment between Men and Women in Employment, which is scheduled for 2005.”

Furthermore, Kusano strongly criticized pension system reform saying, “The government’s current draft merely postpones our problems to the future. The recurring burden hikes and benefit cuts are only government’s attempt to make it all sound fiscally plausible. The problems for tertiary insured people have not been resolved at all.” Continuing to express his solid determination, Kusano added that “we will proceed with various activities to seek for radical reform. During that process we want to make every possible effort to establish rights for women workers such as the right-to-work and pension rights.”

ICFTU-APRO Women's Department Director Song described the actual working conditions of women workers throughout Asia and stressed that “the most crucial issue for us is to bring an awareness of gender problems to the mainstream.” Attorney Nakano offered an explanation as to why the Equal Employment Act ought to be revised now by pointing out that “we must form a wage system which is gender neutral.”

Afterwards, JUKI Workers Union Vice President Tomoko Yoshino reported on their activities to redress male/female wage differentials though a visual presentation that utilized tables and graphs.

Assistant General Secretary Yukari Yamanaga of the Federation of AEON Group Workers' Unions reported that they have been “welcoming part-time workers as colleagues while at the same time proceeding with personnel management strategies that are based on ones ability and achievement, abolish any mention of nationality, age, sex, educational background, and/or employee classification from personnel management’s basic principles.”

After this, RENGO Assistant General Secretary Seiko Hayashi summarized the preceding remarks and emphasized that “it is only through men and women working together on these issues that any significant difference in conditions affecting women will be made.” Finally, the rally appeal was adopted and all of the participants sang the “Solidarity Forever” in unison, which was also performed in sign language. After which the rally was closed.