The cabinet approved on March 11 a bill to worsen the Worker Dispatching Act. Diet debates are scheduled to be made intensively in mid-May. Labor movements, which have retreated for years, must be enhanced to halt parliamentary passage of the revised law. It is the crucial time for workers to commit in full-fledged struggles, seeking solidarity.
ABROGATE THE LAW ITSELF!
The controversial law, Worker Dispatching Act, must be abrogated. A company should hire workers on the basis of regulations stipulated in Article 44 of the Employment Security Law. A rule for employment should rely on direct employment with no limit on years to work.
But the situation is completely opposite; a company has ‘no regularly-employed workers’ and ‘employees work on a dispatching status throughout his/her working life’. Now this Worker Dispatching Act is to be revised further worse along the trend. The Diet will discuss the agendum in mid-May.
Government destroys employment
The Abe government has a policy to lead Japan to a nation ‘where business could behave most freely in the world’. It deregulates labor-related laws by force with top-down philosophy, excluding participation of representatives from the labor. It plans to steadily enact various labor bills during the Fiscal 2014 to overhaul the existing employment system.
The plans include: cutting social service budgets, letting the elderly work until his/her death, reviewing a preferential tax deduction system so that female workforce may be procured and employing foreign workers for labor shortage. The government keeps producing massively low-waged workers employed with unstable conditions.
No protection for dispatched workers
Irregular workers, in particular, dispatched workers, who are employed indirectly through an agent and work for certain specified period, are not protected by the existing laws. The controversial Worker Dispatching Act, from the onset, has no regulations except for prevention of shift of permanent employees to dispatched employees and restriction of categories of business. It totally lacks protection of workers.
Since the year 1986 when the Act was approved in the Diet, criticisms have been raised on: (1) control over illegal dispatching, (2) assurance of equal treatment for dispatched workers with full-time employees in the same workplace, (3) collective responsibility of a recipient company for protection of workers, (4) regulation on a registration system, and (5) involvement in a labor union.
However, these aspects have not been improved, while business categories have expanded. The Abe government is to cancel the principle not to replace permanent staff with non-regular employees.
Dispatched workers have low wages and work under the unstable employment conditions. Simultaneously they suffer from discrepancies of conditions and various types of harassment, including sexual harassment. If a manager of broker agency orders to stop working, he/she gets sacked at any time.
Undermined function of Labor Policy Council
Discrepancies were big between the management and the labor in the Labor Policy Council, an advisory body to Minister of Labor and Welfare. As the stronger position is held by members advocating public profits, a bill to favor the management was formulated without consent of the labor. It was presented to the Diet. If such practices are repeated without objections, the council will lose its reason to coordinate efforts of three parties, the government, the management and the labor. The labor side is obliged to struggle to overcome difficulties.
Opposition must be organized
A civic group, Joint Action to Prevent Abe Government from Destroying Employment, was organized. Struggles have begun to oppose worsening of labor laws. The Rengo (=Japanese Trade Union Confederation), too, is committed in the campaign and plans to stage actions. It is the crucial time for workers to fight against deterioration of employment. Let’s organize various labor groups in the joint efforts.
April 8, 2014