KOGA Says! RENGO's Statement by General Secretary
“The Charter for Work-Life Balance”
18 December 2007
RENGO’s Statement by General Secretary Koga
- Today on December 18, 2007, the Japanese Government’s Council of Executives of Public and Private Sectors to Promote Work-Life Balance chaired by the Secretary of the Cabinet finalized its work on “The Charter for Work-Life Balance” and “The Action Policy for Promoting Work-Life Balance”. “The Charter” signed by the Council members such as the Ministers concerned and the representatives of the employers and the workers was handed over to Prime Minister Fukuda by Ms. Keiko Higuchi, Professor of Keio University, who had chaired the Working Party for formulating the Charter, together with Mr. Tsuyoshi Takagi, President of JTUC-RENGO and Mr. Fujio Mitarai, Chairman of Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation). The essence of the Charter and the Action Policy was incorporated in “priority strategies” which were put in order by the Conference to Examine Priority Strategies for “A Japan Which Supports Children and Family” (chaired by the Secretary of the Cabinet) that was held afterward. “The priority strategies” will be finally decided in some days by the Conference to Examine the Measures against Declining Birthrate Society (chaired by the Prime Minister).
- “The Charter” states that, in order to establish a Work-Life Balance society where 1) the economic base is secured through working, 2) the time for family and community activities is secured, and 3) diverse and flexible ways of work can be chosen, employers and workers should tackle reforms of the ways of work voluntarily and the State Government as well as the local Governments should get the environment ready for it. Concretely, in order to attain the numerical targets of 14 items including halving those employees who work more than 60 hours per week and raising the rate of continuous employment of those women who want to work after their childbirth, it is stated in “the Charter” that the whole society should be involved in its attainment and that the progress of it should be inspected and evaluated by setting up a committee composed of representatives of both the employers and the workers. Same kind of arrangements are being examined in the local regions, too.
- JTUC-RENGO participated in both the Conference to Examine Priority Strategies and the Top Conference, and emphasized drastic reforms of the ways of work. In September 2007, JTUC-RENGO got “Basic Idea for Work-Life Balance” in shape and affirmed in it that “what is necessary now is a comprehensive reform of the ways of work to regain the time for life”. To establish a society where everybody can make various choices at his or her own will as to a worthwhile work and a full life is connected in effect to building up a society where both men and women can bring birth to children and raise them while working. It is very significant that policy changes have been made toward wider ones by lumping together in “Work-Life Balance” such individual policies like those on decline of birthrate, equal participation of men and women, labor market reform and so forth. It is also significant that the Government, the employers and the workers have reached an agreement on their respective role and responsibility for realizing a Work-Life Balance society.
- The rest is how to put it into practice. The Work-Life Balance should not be the subject to be tackled only by a part of the companies which have a high consciousness, but it should be promoted by the society as a whole. The employer and the trade union of every enterprise should take “the Charter” sincerely and should practice “the Action Policy”. The Government is demanded to improve the social infrastructure which supports child-care and nursing care, and to start immediately preparations for legislation of equal treatment and for arrangement of neutral tax and social security systems. JTUC-RENGO will strengthen its actions for establishing a Work-Life Balance society, in solidarity with its affiliates and local RENGOs.