Working women's 46th assembly examines work rules and mental health

About 800 working women in Japan, who work at offices, factories, shops
and in agriculture, attended the 46th Central Assembly of Working Women in
Tokyo on November 23 and 24.

This year's slogan was: "Say no to Koizumi Cabinet's structural reform
plans,; let the Constitution guide, and let women's equality prevail.
Working women united for peaceful 21st century."

The appeal adopted after discussions on the wide-ranging issues (from war
and peace to the defense of working women's rights) called for increased
grassroots movements in communities and workplaces as part of the national
movement to stop the Koizumi Cabinet's "structural reform" which amounts to
shifting heavier burdens on the already suffering people.

A resolution for international peace in a world without nuclear weapons
and military blocs called on the U.S. government to immediately halt its
retaliatory war in Afghanistan, stop interference in Japan that infringes on
the Constitution, end all U.S. military exercises, including live-fire
drills and touch-and-goes called night-landing practices (NLPs).

On the first day, discussions were organized in seven workshops on
various subjects. A workshop "Working women and mental health," which was
new in the annual assembly, attracted more than 150 participants. A woman in
her twenties who works at a commercial broadcasting station complained about
the 100 hours overtime a month being imposed on workers.

There were reports about workloads increasing in many workplaces in
disproportion to the number of employees, and some workers falling victim to
depression. A male worker from a publishing company reported that the trade
union took up the mental health problem and requested the company to improve
the work environment.

During the discussion, it became clear that discrimination by companies
against women has become more sophisticated and more covert than ever. An
IBM worker reported that the discrepancy between men and women in job
ratings and promotions is sometimes 1:17. She reported that she made IBM pay
her 5 million yen for overtime which she worked without pay for the last two

Nakajima Haruyo, Women's Department head of the National Confederation of
Trade Unions (Zenroren) called on assembly participants to develop common
actions to establish working rules and defend livelihoods. (end)