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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 February 28 - March 6  > 6-party unification forces PM Abe to give up expansion of discretionary work system
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2018 February 28 - March 6 [POLITICS]

6-party unification forces PM Abe to give up expansion of discretionary work system

March 2, 2018

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on March 1 at a press conference in the Diet building said that the six opposition parties’ unified push as well as public opinion drove Prime Minister Abe to give up going ahead with the expansion of the discretionary work system.

PM Abe on this day at a House of Councilors Budget Committee meeting announced his decision to remove measures to expand the use of the discretionary work system from a package of bills covering the “work-style reform” which the Abe government seeks to submit to the current session of the Diet.

At the press conference, Shii pointed out that the expansion of the discretionary system constitutes an important part of the “work-style reform” bills which will lead to relaxing regulations on working hours. Shii said, “Pushed by the six opposition parties’ united efforts and public criticism, the Abe administration and the ruling coalition were forced to make the removal decision.”

Shii demanded that in addition to the removal of the discretionary labor system from the bills, the government abandon its intent to introduce the package bill to the Diet.

Explaining the reason, Shii said that the package will be aimed at the introduction of the so-called “white-collar exemption” system under which workers whose jobs require highly specialized skills and knowledge are excluded from legal protection concerning working hours.

Shii said that like the discretionary work system, the “white-collar exemption” structure is called a “zero-overtime payment” scheme which imposes on workers excessively long working hours and increases the risk of death from overwork, while exempting employers from their legal obligation to pay overtime. “The bills which seek to establish such systems are unacceptable,” Shii added.

Shii also criticized the “work-style reform” measures for allowing employers to force workers to work up to 100 hours of overtime a month, the present yardstick for official recognition of overwork-induced deaths. Shii said that what the Abe government intends to propose is to legalize excessive overtime which in turn jeopardizes workers’ lives.

Stating, “The six opposition parties (the JCP, Constitutional Democratic Party, Democratic Party, Social Democratic Party, Liberal Party, and Party of Hope) agreed on blocking the Abe government move to table the “work-style reform” bills in the current Diet session. The JCP will work even harder to strengthen the six-party joint struggle.” Noting that the Abe government is still looking for the opportunity to broaden the scope of the discretionary work system, Shii emphasized the need for efforts both inside and outside the Diet to completely foil this government attempt.

Past related articles:
> 6 opposition parties agree to unite against Abe’s labor deregulation move [February 22, 2018]
> Labor ministry’s panel begins discussing relaxation of working hour rules [September 9, 2017]
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