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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 January 13 - 19  > Zenroren activists exchange experiences of union’s vital role under pandemic
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2021 January 13 - 19 [LABOR]

Zenroren activists exchange experiences of union’s vital role under pandemic

January 15, 2021
The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) on January 14 held a meeting of representatives from industrial and prefectural federations. Confirming that the union’s fight during the pandemic has enhanced its value, Zenroren activists shared their experiences in protecting workers’ rights and livelihoods during the coronavirus crisis.

In the meeting, Zenroren also decided that in this year’s “shunto” spring wage struggle, it will demand a 25,000-yen rise in monthly wages and at least a 150-yen increase in hourly wages. In addition, Zenroren will seek to win a nationwide minimum hourly wage of 1,500 yen.

Zenroren President Obata Masako delivered the opening speech and said, “Under the pandemic situation, let us work to attract more workers by emphasizing the importance of the union’s role to protect their rights and livelihoods.” She criticized the Suga government for showing reluctance to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of the general public. She said, “Holding up high our slogans, ‘Protect people’s lives!’ and ‘Use our money to improve health and welfare services!’, let us work hard for the success of this year’s ‘shunto’ wage offensive. Let us win a change in government in the coming general election.”

In the discussion session, various experiences in activities since the start of the pandemic were provided.

A representative of the Saitama Prefectural Federation of Trade Unions (Saitama-Roren) reported that in some municipalities in Saitama, non-regular workers working at public schools under a one-year contract joined a union and put a stop to municipalities’ move to cut their wages.

A representative of the Japan Federation of Prefectural and Municipal Workers' Unions (Jichiroren) talked about its Osaka local’s experience. In Osaka, the Jichiroren-affiliated union launched a signature-collection campaign calling for an increase in the number of public health centers and collected more than 60,000 signatures. As a result, the prefectural government in its 2021 budget draft decided to hire 900 new workers at public health centers.

From the All-Japan Federation of Automobile Transport Workers' Unions (Jiko-soren/ATU), a union representative reported that in Miyagi, Tokyo, and Wakayama, ATU member unions at taxi companies succeeded in blocking attempts of forcible retirement. The representative said that with this success, ATU locals in these areas saw a threefold increase in the number of branches.

A representative of the Japan Metal, Manufacturing, Information, and Telecommunication Workers' Union (JMITU) spoke about its struggle against downsizing moves by major companies, including Hoya, Sega, and IBM, which use the COVID-19 recession as an excuse to downsize.

A representative of the Zenroren Fukuoka Prefectural organization reported that the prefectural assembly unanimously adopted a statement demanding a minimum wage increase and the improvement of state support for smaller businesses during the pandemic.

Past related articles:
> JMITU stands up against Sega Sammy’s job-cut plan using corona-crisis as excuse [December 11, 2020]
> JMITU wins compensation for lost income of corona-affected contract workers at NTT subsidiary [June 22, 2020]
> Role of labor unions vital to overcome corona-induced calamity [May 4, 2020]
> Limo company agrees with union to maintain employment [April 25, 2020]
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