JCP proposes a national movement for eliminating unpaid overtime

Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi announced on April 16 a plan to start a "national movement for pushing corporate management to come up with a business plan that does not depend on unpaid overtime."

The movement is for the full implementation of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare directive on April 6, which stated that employers have an obligation to keep records of workers' work time.

Ichida at a news conference in the Diet building said, "The ministry directive reflects workers' struggles and JCP activities in the Diet. With this as the greatest support, we will call on corporate management to comply with the directive and the government to make efforts to get the ministry directive fully implemented."

The overtime work without pay is a common labor practice in Japan. This is clearly in violation of the Labor Standards Law, but is prevalent in big companies because the government has done nothing to control it.

In the labor union movement, the two major national trade union centers are demanding the elimination of unpaid overtime work. The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) is collecting signatures in the 2001 Spring Struggle and the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) has called on its regional organizations and member national unions to initiate action plans on this issue.

The JCP has raised this question 118 times in the Diet since 1992, calling on the government to take responsible steps to end unpaid overtime. Even since the January 1999 Ordinary Diet Session, the JCP has questioned the government 67 times; the Democratic Party of Japan, four times; the Social Democratic Party, zero time; and the Komei Party, five times.

The hotbed of the unpaid overtime issue is a "workers' voluntary report" system. Shii Kazuo, then JCP Secretariat head, in the House of Representatives Budget Committee last April criticized this, saying that workers are forced to "voluntarily" report shorter overtime than they actually worked, or the company management decides the maximum overtime for each worker and refuses the worker's "voluntary" report if it states a longer time than that.

Shii demanded that company management record the actual overtime of all workers and let the workers have a look at the records so that they can't be falsified. His request was accepted in the ministry directive. (end)