Foreign workers' established union

Foreign workers in the Kanto region around Tokyo have established a union
and begun organizing those who have been placed under harsh working
conditions. It is estimated that there are about 680,000 foreign workers in

The new individual membership union held its founding assembly on
November 16 in Tokyo.

The adopted declaration calls for the defense of low-wage workers, who
are often treated as "throw away" workers. It also says that an increase in
the number of foreign workers working under harsh working conditions
directly affects all Japanese workers.

The union elected Uchiyama Hideo as union chair, and Honda Miyoko
secretary general. The action policy calls for efforts to organize immigrant
workers in Japan, recruitment of volunteer interpreters, and the early
settlement of labor disputes.

Many consultations have been made toward setting up the union, an
indication that expectations are high for the union.

An immigrant worker from the Philippines almost cut off his finger at
work. When he asked for workmen's compensation insurance to be applied to
his injury,
the manager said, "You foreigners are not allowed to make such an arrogant

A Thai cook in Kanagawa Prefecture has been working at a Thai restaurant
in Japan for nearly ten years with a work permit visa. But after he moved to
another shop in 1999, he has not been paid for 17 months. So he can't get
his work permit visa renewed because he did not pay taxes. He is now
regarded as an undocumented foreign resident.

Union secretary general Honda said, "Immigrant workers without a visa
must be relieved by applying laws to protect workers. International treaties
stipulate that they must be given the right to work and their human rights
be guaranteed."

"Despite knowing that illegal immigrant workers are under such bad work
conditions, the government has sent them back to their home countries soon
after they were apprehended. The government must immediately end such an
underhanded policy, and instead take steps to receive them with a legal and
ordered system," said Honda.

For more information about the union call 03-5976-8365