KOGA Says! RENGO's Statement by General Secretary

KOGA says!
Statement on the Opinions on “Reviews of Labor Legislation” Submitted by Government’s Panel on Reform of Regulations

22 May 2007
RENGO’s Statement by General Secretary Koga
The Advisory Council to the government for Regulatory Reform came out with a position document, on 21 May 2007, which titles “Towards a Labor Market Which Enables Us To Get Out of Disparity and Bring About Vitality - Drastic Reviews of Existing Labor Legislation Are Needed.” In the document, the Council, claiming that “because of the nature of the present labour legislation which strongly protect workers, enterprises are made to avoid employing regular workers and thus lead to the increase of atypical workers,” specifically set out the need for further deregulation in the field of employment, such as reviewing case law establishing doctrine on the abuse of right of dismissal as well as Worker Dispatch Law, and removing the restriction on fixed-term work contract.

Such proposals are not acceptable for us under the situation of aggravating polarization in employment. What needed now is reinforcement of rules for work and safety net for workers, but what they proposed run counter to what is needed.

What we cannot overlook in the document, in particular, is the points expressed with an unblushing face that “it is incorrect to think that the more the right of workers is strengthened, the more the protection of workers is guaranteed.” By so expressing, the document claims that 1) raise of minimum wage will bring about unemployment for those workers who cannot display productivity improvement to meet the wage raise, 2) strengthening of the right of women will produce side-effect that enterprises refrain from employing women all along, 3) regulation on dismissal of regular workers will induce enterprises to shift to employment of non-regular workers, 4) imposing obligation on enterprises to offer employment to temporary agency workers who have continuously worked for a certain period of time will lead to suspensions of contract before the ruled period ends, and 5) a uniformly applicable restriction on maximum working hours will give rise to evasions of the laws.

Such a sophistry as to deny “the rights of workers,” without any reference to employers’ responsibility for legal compliance and for securing minimum working conditions for the workers, is a grave challenge to all working people.

Touching upon the question of “transforming accumulated judicial precedents into laws without modification”, the document dares to say that “it is against the principle of separation of the three powers (of administration, legislation and judicature) to bind legislative policy with judicial precedents that are accumulation of judicial judgments.” However, we should point out that if the principle is set out as “the will agreed upon among the parties concerned is respected to the most,” it is possible to invite a situation where anything against social norm is permissible provided that only agreement is made. This is nothing but an argument which forgets the fundamental fact that labor legislation is made on the premise that labor and management are not equal in terms of power.

The document also proposes, referring to “negative effect” of the Ministerial Deliberative Council on Labor Policy, that the present way of policy-making should be changed and “entrusted to a fairer organ” for the reason that the present representatives of employers and workers in the Council remain to be only messengers of their background organizations and do not have the authority to make decisions by themselves. This is also an argument directly related to denial of tripartite principle itself.

Referring to part- time work, on which a bill to revise the related law is already in the Diet for discussion, the document also expresses, in an extremely irresponsible manner, a negative view even on “measures to improve employment rate through setting a numerical target” proposed by the Government’s Special Survey Group on Labor Market.

We never think that the opinions set out in the document will gains sympathy from thoughtful employers or administrators. A drastic review of the position document should be made toward a sound and sensible direction when the final report is made.