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HOME  > Past issues  > 2022 July 20 - 26  > Medical workers’ union in its annual convention calls for politics that protect people’s lives and the Constitution
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2022 July 20 - 26 [LABOR]

Medical workers’ union in its annual convention calls for politics that protect people’s lives and the Constitution

July 20-22, 2022

The Japan Federation of Medical Workers' Unions (Iroren) held its annual convention for three days from July 19 in Tokyo, connecting online with union organizations across Japan as a measure to prevent COVID-19 infections.

The convention adopted a new action program for the next year which aims to achieve the following goals: overcome the pandemic; prevent attempts to revise the Constitution and realize politics that protect people’s lives and true peace; win a substantial wage hike that enables workers to live a decent quality of life; set a cap on the number of night shifts and increase the number of medical workers; and block any adverse revision of social welfare services.

On the first day of the three-day convention, Iroren Chair Sasaki Etsuko delivered the opening speech and pointed out that although Japan is experiencing an overwhelmed medical situation amid the pandemic, the government, while maintaining its plan to slash the number of public hospitals, continues to refuse to increase the number of doctors and nurses.

Stressing that the medical workers’ fight in collaboration with the general public has succeeded in introducing a subsidy system for care workers’ higher wages, the Iroren chair said that however, the system is insufficient as it fails to cover all care workers. She said, “Now is the time for the union to play its vital role in winning a substantial wage hike for all medial and other care workers. In this regard, it is important to increase the number of union members to 200,000 without delay.”

During the two-day discussion session, delegates from across Japan reported on their experiences.

A delegate from Aichi Prefecture said that the Iroren Aichi local has launched a signature campaign calling on the national government to take a measure to increase care workers’ wages by 40,000 yen a month. A delegate from Tokyo reported that as a result of the fight for a seasonal bonus for non-regular medical workers, Tokyo Iroren saw a threefold increase in the number of union members working as non-regular staff and won a seasonal bonus for non-regular workers. A delegate from Yamagata Prefecture talked about the union efforts to prevent the transformation of the Yonezawa City-run hospital into a for-profit entity. Using the results of an Iroren survey in which 80% of hospital workers opposed the move, the Iroren local in the recent collective bargaining session won a response from the hospital management that it will not go forward with the transformation without obtaining the consent from more than 50% of hospital workers.

The three-day convention adopted a declaration in which Iroren, as a medical workers’ union, expresses its determination to block attempts to turn Japan into a war-fighting nation and work hard to realize politics that will put to full use the pacifist Constitution. The convention also elected a new leadership, including re-electing chair Sasaki Etsuko and re-electing secretary general Morita Susumu.

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