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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 March 11 - 17  > Zenroren provides labor counseling to workers affected by coronavirus crisis
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2020 March 11 - 17 [LABOR]

Zenroren provides labor counseling to workers affected by coronavirus crisis

March 11, 2020
The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) on March 9 offered telephone counseling services to workers across Japan, which highlighted the extent to which the ongoing coronavirus crisis is affecting the employment situation and workers’ everyday lives.

The number of phone calls for advice which Zenroren received on the day exceeded 300, 1.5 times greater than usual. Half of the total calls came from non-regular workers and 60% of the total was from women.

A female temporary worker doing clerical jobs said, “When I told my employer that a family member, who works at a medical facility, had a fever, I was ordered not to come to the office for two weeks. After two weeks of absence, however, I was unilaterally dismissed.” A female food delivery worker said, “My employer told me that I’m not entitled to the government measures to compensate affected workers for loss of earnings because I’m an independent contractor.”

Giving advice to workers, Zenroren explained the existing systems available for solving their problems. Furthermore, Zenroren in its advice recommended workers to go to law enforcement authorities or join a labor union if actions taken against them are found to be illegal.

On the following day, Zenroren Secretary General Nomura Hiroyuki attended a public hearing of the House of Councilors Budget Committee. He pointed out that in efforts to ease public concern over the spread of COVID-19 virus, it is necessary to create a situation where workers have no anxiety over the impact of coronavirus on their jobs.

Nomura urged the government to implement measures to provide compensation benefits for absence from work to all workers, from regular workers to non-regular and freelance workers.

Furthermore, Nomura cited the increase of the consumption tax rate to 10% as one of the major factors in the widespread fears over the new virus. The Zenroren officer pointed out that the implementation of the higher tax rate has caused economic decline larger than expected and widened social inequalities further. He said that the government should advise large corporations to distribute a portion of their internal reserves among workers and the general public.

Nomura concluded his statement by demanding that the government-drafted 2020 budget be revised to incorporate funds for measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

Past related article:
> Opposition parties’ proposal for 2020 budget revision focusing on fight against COVID-19 rejected [February 29, 2020]
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