2015 Shunto – restarting the fightback

Feb 10, 2015

 Management is keeping their purse-strings tight, and furthermore the Abe administration is plotting to submit a “Zero Overtime Pay” bill. Making use of the Industrial Competitiveness Committee and the Regulatory Reform Committee, they even seem to be planning to dismantle the basic principles of postwar labor law, led by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Even so, there is just one way that workers in a weak position can resist: by standing up in solidarity and unity, in other words by coming together in the form of a union. Each of us individually is a weak and tiny thing, but all together we can confront a large opponent. Then let our combined strength and outcries spread to the whole of society, becoming a pressure to change the condition of society itself.

To think of it, this year is a milestone: 70 years since the end of the war.  The current government seems determined to hide away the prewar history of aggression in Asia and oppression of multiple peoples, in order to push the image of “Japan, a Great Power” on the world stage. History, however, cannot be sealed up. As recently-deceased former German president Weizsäcker said in a speech, “those who close their eyes to the past will also end up blind to the future”. Those who try to close up history will have revenge taken on them by history itself.

Putting such reasoning aside for the moment, first of all the Shunto Rally, hosted by Union Network, will be held on February 19 at L-Osaka in the Minamikan Hall. We will accept each participating union’s appeal and statement of determination for the Shunto, and will also hear as the main report an appeal from the people directly concerned in the JAL dispute and the Postal Service/Labor Contract Law Article 20 case. Then we will finalize our plans of activity for the spring season, starting with the Osaka Spring General Action, and call for participation. We would like to appeal for as many people as possible to join.

Apropos, concerning that court case involving the Postal Service and Article 20 of the Labor Contract Law, Osaka Zenrokyo is planning to hold its own study meeting. The suit was filed in the District Courts of both Tokyo and Osaka by Yusei Union and its members in response to the gap between regular and irregular employees and to discriminatory employment policies. We will be thinking about the meaning of the case and the direction the fight must take. Regardless of union membership, we are calling for as many people as possible to participate.

Finally, at the end of February, from February 28 to March 1, the 2015 Shunto West Japan Teach-In will take place at Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama City, Ehime. It is being held jointly by Zenrokyo and an executive committee formed locally. Zenrokyo will be proposing aims for this Shunto. As special reports, there will be the fight against Hashimoto’s Restoration Party, the JAL dispute, and the Labor Contract Law Article 20 case. There will also be reports from each region, as well as reports and appeals from unions that are in dispute. The keynote lecture will be “Fatigue and Sleep in Shift Workers”, given by Sasaki Tsukasa (Institute for Science of Labor). We expect that each union will be sending delegates. They will be able to enjoy the hot spring baths, as well as to foster friendship and exchange among members of various unions.

From issue 215, 2015.02.05 of Osaka Zenrokyo News