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Zenroren, Rengo, and Zenrokyo jointly call for blocking of white-collar exemption

A wide range of labor unions, including the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) and the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), held a rally in Tokyo on December 5 calling for blocking the government scheme to implement a Japanese-style white-collar exemption system that will enable corporations to force their workers to work long hours without paying them overtime by abolishing working hour regulations.

In protest against the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare's move to submit a proposal for the scheme to the Labor Policy Council as early as December 8, representatives of Zenroren, Rengo, the National Trade Union Council (Zenrokyo), the Japanese Communist Party, and the Social Democratic Party expressed opposition to this proposal at the rally.

Labor Lawyers Association of Japan Deputy Secretary General Natsume Ichiro referred to a report revealing the reality of Japanese workers' long working hours which his organization has just published, and said, "The exemption system will inevitably increase incidents of 'karoshi' (death from overwork) because it denies the fundamental right of workers to work a maximum of eight hours a day, 40 hours a week."

Zenroren Deputy Secretary General Miyagaki Tadashi stated, "The exemption system will be applied to as many as 10 million workers, and a total of 11.6 trillion yen of overtime pay will be lost." Rengo Deputy Secretary General Koyama Masaki stated that Rengo will resolutely oppose the scheme. Zenrokyo President Fujisaki Ryozo criticized the ministry's plan for implementing business circles' demands.

JCP House of Representatives member Kasai Akira stated, "Let us foil the business circles' scheme by rallying the workers who forced the labor ministry to issue instructions to corporations to correct their illegal practice of disguised contract workers." SDP President Fukushima Mizuho stated, "We cannot allow the government to further weaken labor laws."
- Akahata, December 6, 2006

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