Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Don’t hesitate to raise your voice~Say no to a society that tries to limit freedom of speech, expression

 There is a growing sense of crisis in Japan that the government oppression is getting stronger. As people are sensing the eerie air that resembles the days leading up to World War II, they are fighting it off by raising their voice and refusing to be silenced.

Mina Watanabe of wam (Women’s Active Museum) analyses the newspaper reports on comfort women and says it is the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s remark denying that comfort women were forced into sex slavery that brought criticism from the international community.

Koichi Yasuda, journalist, shares experiences of long-term Korean residents of Japan who are discriminated against and are intimidated by a certain ultra nationalist group. He says the minority Korean who need a voice is silenced by the racial threats.

2,000 people raise their voices against runaway Abe cabinet on first day of Diet

 When the extraordinary Diet session was to open in the afternoon of September 29, about 2,000 people gathered and surrounded the Diet forming a human chain to stop the runaway Abe cabinet. The action for the day was organized collectively by various citizens’ groups and trade unions. They opposed a wide range of policies pushed under Abe administration, such as secrets law, TPP, the approval of the use of the right to collective defense, restart of a nuclear plant, an increase of the consumption tax, and labor deregulations. Despite the daytime action during the week, many young people participated. Protest voices have been growing stronger since Abe began his authoritarian government. Nevertheless, it has been presenting a policy after another as if to mock the public’s protest. A woman with a flag reading, “Protect Article 9,” said, “We must not stop the action. We must keep raising our voices till we dislodge Prime Minister Abe from power at any cost.”  Photo: Chie Matsumoto (right) interviews a protester.

国会開会日 : 安倍政権の暴走に危機感!約2000人の市民が声をあげる

臨時国会がはじまる9月29日の昼、安倍政権の暴走を止めようと、およそ2000人の市民が集まりヒューマンチェーンによって国会を包囲した。この日の行動 は、複数の市民団体や労働組合が共同で企画。秘密保護法、TPP、集団的自衛権行使容認、原発再稼働、消費税増税、労働規制緩和など、安倍政権下で進めら れている様々な政策に反対した。平日の昼間にもかかわらず、若年層からの参加もあった。安倍政権が暴走をはじめた当初から抗議する声が強まってきたとはい え、それをあざわらうかのような政策が次々と提案されている。「9条を守ろう」と書いた旗を持った女性はこう言った。「だからと言って反対運動をやめては いけないんです。とにかく安倍総理を引きづり下ろすまで、声を上げ続けなければいけないんです」。(松元ちえ) *写真=参加者にインタビューする松元さん(右)

Raising photos of violent Coast Guard~650 participate in Tokyo Action to Prevent Construction of a New Facility in Henoko

The drilling survey for the construction of a US military base in Henoko, Okinawa, is being enforced in defiance of residents day after day.
 In line with “Let’s go to Henoko—Stop building a new facility! 9.20 Action by residents of Okinawa” held in Henoko, Okinawa, a protest meeting and demonstration was held in Miyasita Park in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward in the afternoon on Sept. 20 drawing some 650 people.
A fellow who was choked by a Coast Guard after a protest action with a group of canoeists off Henoko, made a speech at the rally.
 After the event, participants demonstrated around Shibuya Station with a banner reading, ”Don’t allow the construction of a new facility in Henoko!”
They made various appeals by singing, “Return Okinawa to us,” dancing in Dugong costumes, raising photos of violent Coast Guard and so on. (By OZAWA Kuniko) Photos by SATO Shigemi


沖縄・辺野古での米軍基地建設にむけたボーリング調査が、沖縄県民の民意を無視して連日強行されています。沖縄・辺野古現地で開催された「みんなで行こう辺 野古へ!―止めよう新基地建設!9.20県民大行動」に呼応し東京から声を上げようと、20日午後、渋谷・宮下公園 で抗議集会とデモが行われ、650人が参加しました。集会には、辺野古海上のカヌー隊に参加し、海上保安庁の職員に首を絞められた仲間からの発言がありま した。集会後、「辺野古に基地をつくらせない!」の横断幕を先頭に、渋谷駅を一周するデモ行進を行いました。「沖縄を返せ」の歌と踊り、ジュゴンのかぶり もの、海上保安庁の暴力写真などなど、さまざまにアピールしていました。(尾澤邦子) 写真(佐藤茂美)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sexual Harassment in Eikaiwa

The Japan Times has published another article dealing with incidents of sexual harassment in the English teaching industry. It is very sad that this kind of article is necessary, but it is. Sexual harassment in the workplace should not be accepted, and if it occurs it should be dealt with by employers. Unfortunately this is often not the case, particularly when the person doing the harassment is a client.

If you have experienced sexual harassment in your workplace please feel free to contact the GU especially if your employer is not adequately dealing with it. We have found that a simple request from the union can make a big difference in some cases, and no one should have to put up with this.

October 1, 2014

Osaka Cnets seek to improve working conditions

 Print Email
After months of preparation, we are happy to announce the formation of our new union branch at Osaka City Board of Education. Known as Osaka Cnets, the branch consists of Native English Teachers (NETS) who teach alongside Japanese English teachers.

Newly established in August 2013, the Cnet program is an initiative of the Osaka City mayor, Hashimoto. Knowing his anti-worker stances, the union felt it important to try and organize teachers earlier, rather than later.

Once the city had completed the hiring process, it turned out there were already three union members amongst the more than 100 ALTs hired. This gave us an inside into working conditions ? the good and bad. And while the conditions are much better than those of most dispatch ALTs, there is little job security for these direct hire ALTs, with a maximum of only 3 years employment. This, and other conditions, is significantly worse when compared to NETs at Osaka-fu who have won job security with unlimited contract renewals.

One of the most shocking things was the failure of the Board of Education to ensure that all teachers received a health check. This is in violation of two laws ? the Education Law, and the Industrial Safety and Health Law. Why is this so important? Some of you may not know but Japan, and Osaka specifically, has the highest incidence of tuberculosis in the industrialized world. As a result, the Japanese Education Law stipulates that both teachers and students must receive x-rays annually to help keep the disease under control. Once negotiations are under way we will be insisting this important health check be given immediately, for the protection of students and teachers alike.

Members from the branch, and union headquarters, will be meeting with officials from the Board of Education this afternoon to officially hand over notice of the branch declaration, and demands for collective bargaining. You can read more on our demands here.

Time for a pay rise! Open Seminars - All Welcome!

Osaka: Sunday, October 19 from 2pm (branch meetings from 4pm)
Nagoya: Sunday, 5 October from 2:15pm (branch meetings from 1pm)

Main Seminar - Time for a pay rise!

Prices are rising fast and it's not just the consumption tax either, electricity prices are up 30% since Fukushima while food prices rose by 5.1% in June. Figures for June show inflation of 3.6%. General Union members and other workers  need a pay increase just to maintain their present living standards.

However, wages of most workers are falling. Real wages fell by 3.8% in June. While Abe has urged companies to concede pay increases, and even the head of the employers' organisation, has urged his members to pay more. The economic recovery may depend on it, but individual employers do not seem to be playing ball.

Maybe they can't afford it? Well, not according to the Bank of Japan. Japanese companies are sitting on a cash pile of 232 trillion yen, 14% of worldwide corporate cash reserves. Company sales may benefit from increased demand but they would rather leave it to competitors to increase wages and maintain their profit levels. We will not win wage increases unless we are prepared to fight for them.

Come along and hear how we can organise our workmates and colleagues to win pay increases.

Mini Seminars (some seminars not available in Nagoya)

Organising to win pay increases
The union's recent strike of 50 teachers at ECC which beat the company's attempt to replace a pay rise with a yearly bonus saw the union win both a pay rise and a bonus. Not only was the union able to beat the employer's attack on wages, but membership grew when employees saw the union take a strong stand for everyone’s benefit.

Can this be repeated at your workplace? Well, it's not easy, but the victory at ECC should bean important lesson for all. Other workplaces victories and how we organize to win will also be discussed.

Come learn how workplace unions are built, and how union members have come together to win what many have thought impossible in the past.

Job security for all

Irregular workers, those employed on part-time, limited term, or dispatch contracts now make up more than a third of the Japanese workforce as well as the bulk of the General Union’s members. The tendency is present in education as well as private companies. They now account for 36.8% of the total.

Legal measures such as the amendment to the Labour contract law have been weak and have so many loopholes that they may even have worsened the situation. The government has further undermined the law and now wants to remove restrictions on dispatching.

The General Union fights for permanent direct and employment for these workers and for equal treatment with sennin/seishain. However, in the short-term we are often faced with the task of keeping our members in their jobs. This seminar will look in detail at the fight for job security for these workers.

Equal pay for equal workl

A new poverty report shows that nearly 20 million now live below the poverty line and 80% of these people are the “working poor”, those working in non-permanent, temporary or part time jobs.

Women often suffer the worst of this job discrimination as over 57% work as temporary workers. This has pushed the wage gap between men and women to 29% percent and a shocking 39% when considering women with children. Single mothers took an even greater hit and earn on average less than half of the national average.

Have the Equal Opportunity Law and laws regulating maternity leave failed? How can we make workplaces where women, regardless of employment or parental status, can participate equally in the workforce?

Friday, October 3, 2014

We don’t need Maglev Train--the largest, worst environmental disaster in history

 The magnetically levitated train is to start operation in 2027. The plan is already in place for construction, but the citizens’ protest is recently gaining momentum in Shizuoka Prefecture. When nearly 100 people gathered for an event on Sept. 25, they reconfirmed various environmental issues Maglev Train is said to cause to the local communities as well as to the world.  While voices calling to protect the Southern Alps in Shizuoka City, Mayor TANABE Nobuhiro expressed his hope to raise a national awareness on this issue. With the Southern Alps being approved as UNESCO's Eco-Park in June, people in Shizuoka are determined to call on the international community to support their cause and to join the protest. (By MATSUMOTO Chie)


2027 年に開業予定されているリニア中央新幹線。すでに建設が決定している中で、静岡市の市民が反対運動を盛り返す勢いを見せている。静岡市で9月25日に開催 された集会には、およそ100名の市民が各地から結集。リニア建設にともなう様々な問題を再確認し、今後の反対運動の方向性を話し合った。静岡市では南ア ルプスを守るべきだとの声が高まるとともに、田辺信宏市長が「国民的議論を巻き起こしたい」と語っていることが報告された。6月には南アルプスがユネスコ のエコパークとして登録承認されたことを盾に、リニア新幹線がもたらす環境問題を世界的にも訴えていく予定だ。(松元ちえ)

‘Send men home earlier’ if the government wants women to shine

Labornet TV featured “Prime Minister Abe’s Policy to Empower Women” on Sept. 24. TAKENOBU Mieko (left) said on the internet TV, “Our situation is totally sad as the equality index between Japanese men and women ranks 101st in the world.”

 Regarding Abe’s policies on women, she expressed her concerns by pointing out that only elite women in corporations will be able to shine. “Abe’s policies will create a system where foreign workers take on house chores, child-raising or care giving—anything that is a burden in the homes, and women will be made to work as hard as men instead. Public welfare will be massively cut,” she said.

 YUNOKI Yasuko (right) expressed her anger by saying that 60 percent of non-regular workers are women but “Abe is pushing to worsen the Dispatch Law for workers. If he gets what he wants, the percentage of women who become non-regular workers will rise to 80 percent. Who can shine within such a system?!”

 Yunoki also called on labor unions to send men home earlier from work. “The main cause of Japan’s misfortune is that work hours are not regulated,” she said. “What we first have to do is to send men home earlier.” (By M)


9 月24日のレイバーネットTVは「女たちが緊急検証・安倍の女性活躍法」を特集した。ゲストの竹信三恵子さん(写真左)は「日本の男女格差指数が世界 101位という余りにお粗末な現実にある」ことを強調した。安倍の女性政策については「輝くのは企業のエリート女性のみ。彼女たちを男並みに働かせるため に、負担となる家事労働や育児・介護は外国人にやらせる仕組みをつくる。これは公的福祉の大幅後退になる」と危惧する。柚木康子さん(右)は「いま女性の 6割は非正規。安倍は派遣法改悪を推進しているが、これで女性の8割が非正規になってしまう。いったいだれが輝くの!」と怒りを露わにした。そして「日本 の不幸の元凶は労働時間の規制がないことだ。まずやることは“早く男を家に帰せ!”ということ。労組もそれを第一に取り組むべき」と檄を飛ばした。(M)

Do not restart Sendai Nuclear Plant!

Some 16,000 people came to “Farewell to Nuclear Plants” rally at a Tokyo park on Sept. 23, carrying a slogan, “Do not restart Sendai Nuclear Plant. We will not forget Fukushima.” “The Abe administration is putting many ill policies into effect,” KAMATA Satoshi, reportage writer, said at the event. “His cabinet is dead as TANAKA Shozo said. Abe does not listen to people’s voices and tries to make profit for nuclear reactor manufacturers and utilities by restarting nuclear plants.” Kamata also pointed out misreporting by the Asahi Shimbun on the interview with YOSHIDA Masao, Fukushima Daiichi chief. “Yoshida simply did not have a grasp of all his employees after they moved. Nuclear pushers are beautifying how well they persisted. We will never give up. We have a good grasp of our future. Let’s take action for our future.” (By Y)  Photo=Fukushima farmers raise flags made of straw.


9 月23日、「さようなら原発全国大集会」が東京・江東区の亀戸中央公園で開かれ、 16000人(主催者発表)が参加した。集会は「川内原発を再稼働するな、フクシマを忘れな い」をスローガンに掲げた。ルポライターの鎌田慧さんが最初に発言。「安倍内閣はさまざまな悪政を実施している。あの田中正造が言ったように、亡国内閣 だ」。「国民の声に聞く耳を持たず、メーカーと電力会社のカネ儲けのために原発を再稼働しようとしている」。「朝日新聞の問題では、吉田所長が(移動し た)部下の動向を把握していなかっただけのこと。それを原発推進派は、社員ががんばったと 美化している」。「私たちは絶対に譲らない。未来は私たちが握る。みなさん一緒に 行動しましょう」と呼びかけた。(Y) *写真=福島の農民がむしろ旗を掲げていた

We will never forgive Toyota that destroyed our family life

 Ed Cubelo (left) and Winnie, president and vice president of Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation Workers Association (TMPCWA), came to visit from the Philippines in mid-September to resolve their long-lasting dispute with Toyota. After they went to the automaker’s Aichi headquarters on Sept. 14 and 15 to demand that the world’s largest car company resolve the dispute, they met with the management in Tokyo on Sept. 17.

“It’s been 13 years since our struggle started,” Cubelo told Labornet TV in front of Toyota's Tokyo headquarters. “We believe that we’ve already won this dispute for having struggled for 13 years. Toyota unfairly dismissed us and destroyed our family life. The company should resolve the dispute based on the ILO recommendation. We have launched a campaign “Shame on Toyota” in the Philippines. We have been taking action at Toyota factories, its business partners, Japanese Embassies and any related groups to inform them of this issue.” (Labornet TV) Photo: At Toyota's Tokyo headquarters on Sept. 17.


フィ リピントヨタ争議の解決を求めて、ことしもフィリピントヨタ労組(TMPCWA) のエド委員長(左)とウィニー副委員長(右)が来日した。かれらは日本の支援者とともに、9月14~15日トヨタ愛知本社への要請行動を行い、17日には 東京本社に申し入れをした。「レイバーネットTV」は、東京本社前でエドさんとウィニーさんに話を聞いた。エドさんは、「たたかいは13年をこえた。13 年頑張ってきたこと自体が勝利だと思っている。トヨタは私たちを解雇し、家族の生活をめちゃくちゃにした。ILO勧告に基づき今こそ解決すべきだ。現在 フィリピンでは、“Shame on Toyota(トヨタよ恥を知れ)キャンペーン”を展開している。トヨタ工場・取引会社・日本大使館・フィリピン関係機関前でアクションを起こし、この問 題を広く訴えている。必ず勝利する」と語っていた。(レイバーネットTV) *写真=9月17日トヨタ東京本社前で