The Abe government tries to reform labor rules: it emphasizes on a policy of equal pay for equal job, allegedly, in order to adjust inequalities of irregular workers and correct a long-time work practice. Looking into the plan carefully, however, it admits the Karo-shi, or a death from overwork, tolerates inequalities and increases rules that might deprive workers of the rights. If the reform is implemented, working conditions will be aggravated.
DON’T LET GOVERNMENT DESTROY LABOR RULES AND PEOPLE’S LIVLIHOOD
The Abe government, declaring to ‘vanish a phrase, irregular employment’, made a decision in the cabinet on June 2 last year on a plan, ‘Promotion of Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens’. Verbally, it said about realization of a rule of equal pay for equal job and correction of a long-time working practice to allure the working population.
Plan Admits Karo-shi and Allows Inequalities
When looking into the policy package, it has been proven that the routines would become worse. The Council for Realization of Work Style Reform compiled on March 28 this year the Work Style Reform Plan in which the government admits the Karo-shi as well as inequalities and strengthens rules that robs workers of the rights.
In the process of compilation of the plan, the council incorporated the Rengo, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (JTUC-RENGO), to undermine the Council of Labor Policies of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Welfare. It committed in the Spring Labor Offensive to weaken labor movements. The fact must be noted.
An 8-hour Work Rule
Prime Minister Abe told ‘not to repeat the same tragedy’, referring to the suicide of a young lady worker at Dentsu Inc. The incident attributed to a disease caused by her horrendous overwork. The Plan, however, admits this type of overwork; it allows ’80 hours of overwork for consecutive 12 months and 960 hours a year’ and ‘the 100 hours or less a month’. The figures mean an addition of overtime work and working hours on holidays.
The Ministry of Health and Labor has criteria on the industrial accident of Karo-shi: ‘if a worker overworked for about 100 hours a month before contracting a disease and he/she had worked for about 80 hours monthly 2-6 months before that, his/her death is regarded as a Karo-shi’. Currently an industrial accident is certified when a worker works for 80 hours or less a month. The new, 100-hour overwork rule is a regressive norm of certification. The upper limit of overwork set by the order of Minister at the moment is 45 hours a month and 360 hours a year.
The Plan excludes those workers in question, who are car drivers, construction workers, doctors and researchers of science and technology, and gives them moratorium of five years. As for the Regulations on Interval, which are rules to guarantee employees off-duty hours from the end of work of a day till the start on the following day, employers are not obliged to follow, but can consider them as advice.
The Labor Standard Law prohibits a work longer than eight hours a day. Without the rule, workers do not have time to take care of children and the elderly. The new upper limit of 100 hours means a homicide by ‘the government and business’.
Employers Focus on High Productivity
The government emphasizes on a rule of equal pay for equal job. But in fact it consolidates inequalities between regular workers and irregular workers.
The Council of Labor Policies began working in April to compile a bill. It tries to eliminate the working hour rule to establish a system for highly skilled workers and to shift to a practice of flexible working hours. The council is to combine the bill with another one that might allow a monetary solution in sacking workers.
The Work Style Reform Plan taken initiative by the Abe government is exclusively to heighten productivity on the side of employers. It will damage health and life of workers and destroy their human rights and livelihood. The very first step for workers to achieve a real reform in the working style is to overthrow the Abe government.
June 27, 2017