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Rengo Convention shows contradictions inherent in its pro-corporate, pro-DPJ stance

The Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), one of the two major trade union organizations, held its regular Convention October 5-6 and elected a new president.

The Rengo Convention this year notably revealed contradictions inherent in its labor-management cooperation policies and its support for the Democratic Party, namely its inability to defend job security against corporate "restructuring," resulting in a further decline in its membership.

In the last ten years, the number of Rengo-affiliated union members decreased by more than a million, and the decline is continuing. Regular workers are being replaced by non-full time workers, including temporary workers.

Outgoing Rengo President Sasamori Kiyoshi in his speech stated, "It is regrettable that Rengo has been unable to defend jobs, the lifeline for workers. The trade union movement's policy of coexistence with corporations for the sake of international competitiveness is being called into question."

Rebuilding the organization was a major issue at the Rengo Convention, but no one spoke about why the membership declined drastically.

Asked about ways to bring changes to the organization, new Rengo President Takagi Takeshi said, "There's no magical bullet."

The convention confirmed that Rengo continues to support the Democratic Party of Japan even though they know that the party's new leader, Maehara Seiji, advocates wage cuts and personnel cuts in the public sector. If the DPJ continues to fall into step with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the gulf between the Rengo leadership and its members will widen.

The task now is for the new Rengo leadership to draft a policy for the 2006 Spring Struggle. In the last four years in a row, Rengo did not put up a unified demand for an increase in the base wage. The question now is: Can the new leadership draft a policy that reflects the keen demands of union members? -- Akahata, October 17, 2005

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