The government presented to the Diet April 6 a series of bills related
to the policy on work style reform after deciding on them in the cabinet.
Data on working hours, the basis to support the bills, however, were proven
during the parliamentary debates to be false and the ruling bloc was obliged
to delete several items. They were to expand spheres which the government
was intended to cover with the flexible working-hour system. The bills
have come delayed vastly, but the government is scheduled to pass them
in the current session.
PEOPLE SHOULD LIVE HAPPILY WITH EIGHT-HOUR WORK SYSTEM
The government was, at first, to incorporate in the bills clauses to apply
the flexible working hour system to broader areas of occupations as a deregulation
policy, which is put in parallel with the rules on highly professional
But in the course of Diet debates inappropriate data were found one after another in the government’s investigation reports, which the opposition parties and labor organizations severely criticized. The government decided to withdraw clauses from the bill on expansion of job areas that the flexible hour system covers. But it is planned to introduce the rules on highly professional workers and approve a monthly overwork limit of up-to-100-hour in the legislative efforts.
Destruction of 8-hour work rule
The rules on highly professional workers mean that the legally-set practices on working hours, day-offs and holidays and night work are not to be applied to those who were engaged in these kinds of jobs.
The bills in question provide with rules on highly professional workers
and stipulate equal pay for equal work: the former relates to the regulations
on overwork, specified in Article 36 of the Labor Standard Law and are
restricted to shorter than 100 hours monthly and shorter than 720 hours
annually with penalty clauses being put. The latter is to prohibit unreasonable
treatment of workers, whether they are hired in the regular or irregular
Please analyze, however, the figures carefully. A time limit shorter than
100 hours a month and 720 hours a year represents a level that may cause
Karoshi, a death due to overwork. It cannot be regarded as a measure to
ban the long-hour working practice. Instead, it is to admit legally Karoshi.
As for the government-version equal pay for equal work, it is far from
the practices seen in Europe: it allows disparities in the basic salaries
and emphasizes achievements in the job rather than working hours, which
is a new framework in which workers are evaluated by their job performance.
Aggravation in Labor Standard Law, NO!
Prime Minister stresses reforms in work style, but he does not pay any
serious attention to livelihood, health and lives of the working population.
He is unaware of many facts of Karoshi, suicides and accidents due to overwork.
He is not ready to cope with these incidents.
We must defend the 8-hour work rule, which is a legacy of our ancestors who fought with their blood and sweat. We must fight to eliminate the long-hour working practice which destroys health and life of workers and their families. We must stage movements as social waves across the country to attain labor laws that ensure workers to enjoy life and live with a hope.
In 1998 when the Labor Standard Law was to be worsened, nationwide caravan
campaigns were waged with a slogan to send Workers’ Voices to the Diet.
The movements indeed spread throughout the nation.
In 2006, the first-round of Abe government was forced to give up introduction
of a white-collar exemption rule after workers got engaged in the campaign
during which a joint appeal was successfully won; it was to oppose the
government’s intention to eliminate regulations on working hours and to
demand to ensure workers to work with dignity. Now again we face aggravation
in labor laws; we must struggle to realize a society in which workers can
lead a life with the 8-hour working system. A kick-off rally is held April
17 and caravan campaigns begin from Hokkaido and Okinawa on the day, uniting
labor unions, civic organizations and political parties together.
The New Socialist Party joins the campaign in solidarity. Let’s win in the struggles!
April 17, 2018