Zenroren activists discuss struggles for job security

About 1,100 union activists met in a national meeting to discuss ways to develop union activities in the workplace and local communities from November 8 to 10 in Yamanaka Town, Ishikawa Prefecture.

In opening the 3rd National Exchange Meeting of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), Kobayashi Yoji, Zenroren president, said Zenroren's struggle against restructuring has just begun. He called on participants to demonstrate the real worth of Zenroren as the class-centered national trade union federation to change politics and the economy.

In the keynote speech Bannai Mitsuo, Zenroren secretary general, said the urgent task is for Zenroren to pressure major companies into halting the restructuring race, to demand job creation and assistance for the unemployed, to win a wage increase for all workers including part-time workers, and to oppose the government plan to adversely revise the medical services.

Zenroren local councils and unions have reached out to more than 10,000 workers during the past year to help them solve restructuring-related problems, including dismissals and worsening working conditions. They have helped organize 411 new trade unions.

The Iwate Local Union has in the last two years helped get back pay amounting to 300 million yen in about 300 cases.

At the time it helped foreign teachers at a language school form a union, its chair, who is Christian, said that Iwate Prefectural Federation of Trade Unions was more helpful than Jesus Christ.

In a nursing home in Kyoto Prefecture, workers who were forced to work overtime without pay established a union, held collective bargaining with the management several times, and finally pushed it into accepting that they should be paid for overtime. The number of union members was around 20 in the beginning, but is now 70.

Zenroren-National Union of General Workers (Zenroren-Zenkoku-Ippan) in Saitama Prefecture visited 12,000 small- and medium-sized businesses to discuss ways to boost local economies. One business owner said that he was surprised to find that unions, which he didnŐt like very much, care about small- and medium-sized businesses. (end)