Rengo holds top level discussions with Keidanren
24 October 2006
On October 24, Rengo held top level discussions with Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) in Tokyo. Opinions were exchanged on three themes: Employment, Work/Life Balance and Social Security.
Rengo President Takagi opened discussions by saying that the biggest problem is atypical employment. Problems such as the widening wealth gap caused by low wages and a growing number of people not covered by social security should be addressed through establishing new rules and correcting infringements of present rules. He also pointed out that in Japan’s corporate culture, values such as respect for human beings and respect for dignity of labour are in decline. He then proposed that in order to set up a concrete framework to address all of these social issues, including wealth gaps, crime, the decline in business ethics and so on, a body where labour and management can examine these issues together should be created.
Keidanren Chairman Mitarai commented that due to the diverse labour market and in order to boost efficiency and improve competition, the salary system should be moved towards wages based on jobs performed. He also mentioned that the ‘white collar exemption’ should not apply to all white collar workers, but only those who have an appropriate position and power.
During the discussions, Rengo called for: a efforts to increase regular employment; improving the labour environment so that older workers can find employment; ensuring that the Basic Labour Law and the Occupational Health and Safety Law are applied to temporary workers; ensuring that temporary workers are enrolled in a social security plan; and continued and strengthened cooperation for reforms to the social security system.
Regarding ‘Work/Life Balance’ Keidanren commented that in order to improve the quality of life, it is necessary for workers to change their way of thinking and also to improve the efficiency of work. Rengo answered that mental health problems, death from overwork and work-related suicides caused by long work hours are becoming more and more serious and that working rules on work hours and else must be established and a joint efforts must be made by labour and management to counter this trend. Rengo stressed that the ‘white collar exemption’ could well encourage even longer work time and therefore they cannot admit it.