KOGA Says! RENGO's Statement by General Secretary

KOGA says!
Statement on the submission of “Outline of Draft Labor Contract Law” and “Outline of Draft Law to Revise Part of Labor Standards Law”

02 February 2007
RENGO’s Statement by General Secretary Koga
Today February 2,2007, the Working Committee on Working Conditions of Ministerial Labor Policy Deliberation Council (Chairman of the Working Committee: Mr. Ken-ichiro Nishimura, Professor of Kyoto University) submitted “Outline of Draft Labor Contract Law” and “Outline of Draft Law to Revise Part of Labor Standards Law” which had been referred to the Committee on January 25, 2007. In its submission the Committee added the opinions of worker side members which strongly oppose against “Outline of Draft Law to Revise Part of Labor Standards Law”.

“Outline of Draft Law to Revise Part of Labor Standards Law” focuses on a substantial mitigation of working hours restriction by a creation of “self- managing type working system”, namely Japanese style exemption system, and by mitigating discretionary working system for those engaged in planning-related work. At present, unpaid overtime work and long working hours are rampant in many workplaces, and “karoshi (death due to excessive work load)” and suicides due to excessive work load as well as damage to the health of workers as seen in mental health failure are seriously aggravating, to say nothing of being braked. The lack of a balance between working and living life is also enormous. In such a situation, and moreover neglecting the voice of strong opposition of the public opinions, it is not permissible to introduce a revised law which will further promote long working hours. In particular, naming of the so-called Japanese type exemption system has been changed three times from initial “a system suitable to autonomous work” to “a system suitable to the working method with high freedom”, and then to “a self-managing type working system”. Such a circumstance as was seen in the Committee clearly shows straying, chaos or insufficiency in argument in the Committee.

In “Outline of Draft Labor Contract Law”, it is almost established through a proposal made on December 27, 2006 that the changes of working conditions through changing work rules be made “along the legal principle of judicial precedents”. But still, in the “Outline”, it is mentioned that the working conditions will be determined and changed through the work rules which are, in nature, formulated and changed unilaterally by the employer, and this does not comply with the rule of contract stipulated in the civil law., and it is feared that it will lead to rampancy of unilateral deterioration of working conditions by the employer. Moreover, it is also regrettable that the Outline includes no equal treatment principle, nor those clauses which enable suitable protection for fixed-term contract workers, nor those workers who are in “economically subordinate relationship” as covered by the Law Inclusion of these items are needed in order to fully respond to on-going diversification of employment and working styles.

In the coming discussion in the Diet, it is important, above all, to make efforts to prevent introduction of Japanese type exemption system and mitigation of discretionary working system for those engaged in planning-related work. It is also important to make efforts for raising the rate of overtime wage premium up to that which enables to effectively restrain long working hours, so that the workers can recover their health and individual life hampered by long working hours. JTUC-RENGO will seek to realize its demands in cooperation with those political parties with which it has supporting and cooperating relationship, and run a strong campaign in and outside the Diet in cooperation with its member organizations and its local organizations.