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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 October 10 - 16  > Worker Dispatch Law must be drastically revised without delay
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2007 October 10 - 16 [LABOR]

Worker Dispatch Law must be drastically revised without delay

October 13, 2007
Discussions in the current Diet session are shedding light on the spread of unstable low-waged non-regular employment.

Temporary workers in particular are suffering considerable hardships as typically seen in the case of day laborers who get jobs by following staffing agencies’ instructions delivered to them via cell-phone or e-mail.

In FY 2006, employees in Japan received a total of 48 trillion yen in compensation for their work, including wages and social insurance contributions paid by employers, four trillion yen less than five years ago. In contrast, large corporations’ current profits increased by 2.2 times from 15.1 trillion yen in FY 1997 to 32.8 trillion yen in FY 2006.

Large corporations’ huge profits and the worsening working conditions and reductions in wages have been brought about by the unconstrained increase in non-regular employment. The number of non-regular workers has reached 17.3 million, one third of Japan’s entire workforce. Among young people, the rate rises to half. More than 10 million workers earn less than two million yen a year.

In order to meet business circles’ demands, the government partially lifted a ban on employment agencies in 1985 for the first time after WWII. Since then, a series of deregulations have been implemented to liberalize staffing services.

As Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo in the House of Representatives plenary session and Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi in the House of Councilors plenary session pointed out, behind the accelerated increase in the number of non-regular workers is the large corporations’ personnel policy of reducing regular workers and replacing them with temporary workers to cut labor costs as well as the increased deregulations in labor laws.

Today, however, the public increasingly demands reversing the course of labor legislation. On October 4, a symposium calling for a drastic revision in the Worker Dispatch Law was held in the Dietmembers’ Office Building, in which representatives of the Japanese Communist, Democratic, Social Democratic, and People’s New parties as well as the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) and Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) took part.

The government must open the way for temporary workers to become regular employees by restoring the principle that temporary workers can be dispatched only to meet genuinely temporary needs and should not be used to replace regular workers. Temporary workers should be paid the same as regular workers. The inhumane staffing agency-dispatched day labor system in particular must be immediately prohibited.

In answer to Shii’s question, Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo stated, “The government has also begun to consider amendments to the Worker Dispatch Law and will cope appropriately with the issue.”

However, Labor Minister Masuzoe Yoichi failed to take a clear stance on the question and stressed the importance of “corporate needs” for temporary employment.

In order to achieve a drastic revision of the Worker Dispatch Law, it is necessary to increase public opinion and social movements to achieve this end.
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