A Rally held in Tokyo:
To Create the Gender Equal Employment Law! Legislate Equal Treatment for Part-time Workers!"
06 June 2006
Sister Yamaguchi(at left), with two guests representing Parliament.
On June 1st, RENGO conducted its "Demand Realization Rally: Create the Gender Equal Employment Law! Legislate Equal Treatment for Part-time Workers!" in Tokyo, which drew 134 participants.
House of Representatives and the Democratic Party of Japan member Kazuko Kori and House of Councilors member and Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima were guests representing their political parties. Each criticized the Partial Amendment Bill to the Gender Equal Employment Opportunity Law, which passed the House of Councilors and was sent on to the House of Representatives, for problems that include the stipulation of limited examples of indirect discrimination. They added that they will seek for the following revisions to be included: explicitly stating "work and family balance" and changing the supplementary provision incorporated in the House of Councilors that requires review "within five years after enactment" to "three years."
RENGO Vice President Masako Uemoto urged the audience to "unite our strength so that both the activities to realize gender equality at workplaces and locally and those activities to push ahead with legislation will develop together." Representatives from affiliated organizations and RENGO Local of Tokyo expressed their determination to conduct their activities.
Finally, the rally adopted the following appeal: "To reach our goal of realizing an effective gender equal employment law and equal treatment legislation for part-time workers, let each of us in our workplaces and localities make a united concerted effort to create massive tide of change." Afterward, the participants showed their conviction in bringing about these demands.
Gender Equal Month starts today. In our increasingly “polarized” society, we are faced with a situation where many male regular employees have not changed how they work but many female employees are finding they are "polarized" between long working hours and short working hours/fixed-term contract labor. Further, it is often the case that women eventually suffer discrimination due to "how they are offered work," "a dual career ladder system," and "atypical employment such as part-time work." Also, there is no end to the number of workers who suffer from a variety of unfavorable treatment due to pregnancy/child birth and are forced to leave their jobs. Realities such as these showing a distancing from work-life balance have also had an impact on the falling birthrate.
In order to improve this situation, we are seeking gender parity from such a viewpoint that can even change the chronically long hours that male employees must work.
This year's Gender Equal Month is a crucial activity. This Month RENGO will develop activities in the workplaces and locally in order to strive for the realization of the Gender Equal Employment Law, legislation of equal treatment for part-time workers, and gender equal participation.
The first revision of the Gender Equal Employment Opportunity Law in ten years has now been sent on to the House of Representatives by the Councilors for further deliberation. RENGO continues to seek that the bill be revised to: (1) explicitly state "work-life balance" in that law, (2) prohibit "indirect discrimination" by stating examples in the law, and (3) make positive (affirmative) action obligatory.
We particularly want to demand that the following be explained in the deliberations at the House of Representatives and include: which laws will protect work-life balance; whether enumerating limited examples of indirect discrimination in legislation might lead to cases being turned down before going to court; establishing where cases other than those outlined in the limited examples will be redressed; and where the equal treatment of part-time workers will take shape.
Also, the Democratic Party of Japan plans to propose a bill that will secure the equal treatment for part-time workers in the current Diet session. We need legislation to prohibit discriminatory treatment of part-time workers in order to bring about the equal treatment of all working people. We need a law, not the existing insufficient Part-time Work Law which only mandates limited responsibility on the part of employers, but legislation which will make it mandatory for employers to prohibit discrimination and to treat workers equally.
At today's rally, as we listened to the determined voices from those in the workplaces and localities, we endorsed anew that which we should do during this Gender Equal Month. At the same time, we also renewed our determination to devote our all might to the realization of our demands to revise legislation in the way we want.
The Diet session will reach its peak towards the end of the session. Now is the time for each of us in the workplaces and locally to make a concerted effort together to create a huge tide of momentum for the realizing of our goals for an effective gender equal employment law and the equal treatment legislation for part-time workers.
June 1, 2006
RENGO Gender Equal Month
Demands Realization Rally: "Create Gender Equal Employment Law! Legislate Equal Treatment for Part-time Workers!"