Rally held to encourage worker representatives to the governmental tripartite council
-- to fight against the introduction of ‘White Collar Exemption’ and of ‘dismissing workers by payoff’
14 November 2006
300 people from affiliated unions and Rengo regional organizations participated in a rally held on November 10, outside the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. The rally was held in support of labour members of two Sections of Labour Policy Council —the Working Conditions Section, which is debating the ‘labour contract law’ and the ‘working hours law,’ and the Equal Employment Section, which is debating the ‘part-time worker’s law.’
Yuko Hasegawa, Executive Director of Rengo’s Working Conditions Department and member of the Working Conditions Section made the following comment on debates in her Section: “A system which makes it easy to dismiss workers by offering financial incentives must not be allowed. In order to curb overtime hours, the overtime pay rate should be increased, in line with other countries, to 50%.” She also stated that “Introducing a legal system for working hours that is highly flexible, will only increase the labour burden at a time when the health of a large number of workers is already being detrimentally affected and reports of karoshi (death from overwork), work-related suicides and mental health problems are widespread. We are dead set against the introduction of the Japanese version of the ‘white-collar exemption’ and will keep fighting against it.”
Another Executive Director of Rengo’s Working Conditions Department and member of the Equal Employment Section, Yoji Tatsui, commented: “It seems that management thinks that non-regular employees are disposable. Let’s make sure that the Council hears the voices of all workers, including unorganized part-time workers, and includes equal treatment and banning of discrimination in the ‘part-time worker’s law.’
Next, Rengo Tokyo President Endo gave his message of encouragement and shook hand with each member of the Council before they went to their respective section meetings.
At the Working Conditions Section meeting, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare proposed the introduction of a ‘system that encourages a high degree of freedom in work,’ by enabling workers who satisfy certain conditions to be exempt from working hour regulations (Japanese version of the white-collar exemption). A preliminary draft of possible legislation is also expected to be presented to the Equal Employment Section meeting at the end of the month.