Unions oppose proposal for new system of government employees

The two major national trade union centers as well as public service workers unions have expressed opposition to the government blueprint of a "reformed" personnel system for government employees which will remove job protections for government employees.

On March 28, a task force on administrative reform chaired by Prime Minister Mori Yoshiro announced the blueprint of a basic plan to restructure the personnel system, which the government wants to be completed by June.

The blueprint envisages the abolition of the ranking system and the seniority system and the adoption of a performance-based system to decide promotion or demotion, in which inefficient workers and those who lack aptitude for performance will be let go.

The blueprint also presents the creation of staff teams supporting the prime minister and the cabinet in making "national strategies." The strategy groups will be made up of personnel selected from government ministries and agencies, as well as the private sector.

According to the blueprint, the National Personnel Authority, which has played an important role in determining wages for public employees who are deprived of the workers' right to strike, will be less powerful. And the issue of the coveted restoration of the basic rights for workers has been postponed.

The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) Secretary General Bannai Mitsuo in his March 27 statement expressed Zenroren's rejection of the blueprint.

Bannai said that the blueprint intentionally avoids showing how to settle issues such as a restoration of the deprived basic rights of government workers, and imposes particular values on government employees by introducing a performance-based personnel system and the new task-force system made up of staff members under the direct control of ministers.

"It demands that public employees be obedient to the ruling parties," Bannai added. (end)