Local trade unions, municipalities and employers work together to defend jobs

Last year, the Fukushima chapter of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) worked together with local municipalities and economic organizations in the prefecture to defend jobs and the regional economy.

In this remarkable joint struggle, the prefectural trade union organization had 4 rounds of talks with 79 out of the 90 municipality heads in the prefecture, calling on the administrative authorities to take specific steps to check corporate restructuring and defend jobs. All the 90 municipalities responded to written questionnaires.

In the prefecture, 8,000 companies employed 250,000 workers in 1991. In 2001, only 190,000 people worked at 5,870 companies. One town's biggest company with a former workforce of 1,100 now employs 230 workers, including contingent workers.

Fukushima City, the prefecture's capital which changed to democratic government in November 2001, created 830 jobs with a budget of 127 million yen (1 million dollars). A few towns and villages prevented Matsushita Electronics Industry Corp. from closing down its plants.

A Fukushima city-based Zenroren chapter, which was established with 2,000 members 10 years ago, has now 18 more unions with a total of 3,600 members.

The Fukushima City chapter of the All Japan Automobile Transport Workers Union, which was established seven years ago, now has 200 taxi drivers from 9 trade unions as members.

Ogawa Hideo, president of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Trade Unions-Zenroren, said, "The movement calling for revitalizing and increasing the regional economy and increasing employment (now suffering from the Koizumi structural reform policy) has been developing as a movement calling for a change of local politics." (end)