In response to these moves to totally debase the system of labor laws, we have seen action by lawyers’ groups and Zenrokyo, in Tokyo too, with the Nationwide Caravan. But generally speaking our reactions have been slow. We feel this especially in the case of unions. Could it be that we’ve gone so very weak in the legs, as it were, these past ten years? We have been able to make a few small moves, though, here in Osaka.
At the urging of the Lawyers’ Union for Labor and the Association for Democratic Law (Minpokyo), lunchtime street-protest actions have been going on intermittently since last autumn. For the one on May 19th, Union Net also sent out the call and joined in, following this up with a street campaign using a sound car. Also, that same morning, Union Net petitioned at the Osaka Labor Bureau, making complaints in regard to the worsening of the Dispatch Law, the Zero-Overtime Bill, and the Special Zone system.
At that time, we pointed out the contradiction: on the one hand, the “Law to Prevent Overwork Death, etc.” has been passed, and the Labor Bureau has set up a prevention headquarters inside their own offices to deal with this problem; while on the other hand a law that would only serve to promote overwork death is also on the way to being passed. The Labor Bureau, in their role as an administrative agency, could not comment on a bill that is currently being deliberated. They did explain, however, that (even without needing to wait for unions to point it out) they are already concerned about the recent situation, what with the prevalence of so-called “black companies” and the expansion of overtime hours inside companies.
Also, on May 21, an emergency rally called “Say NO to All-You-Can-Work for Fixed(Low) Pay!” was held at L Theater. It was sponsored jointly by eight Osaka lawyers’ groups, and we also sent out the call for participation. At the rally there was a report on the current situation in the Diet with the bad amendments to the labor laws. Then the main speaker, former journalist Takenobu Mieko (now of Wako University), gave a rousing speech. The theme could be said to be the ideal and reality of the eight-hour workday. It was emphasized that if regulations are loosened, the reality will become even worse than it already is, with even regulatory bodies like the Labor Bureau becoming unable to raise a hand against dishonest corporations.
Additionally, the Overwork-Death Lawyers’ Association reported on the current state of the problem; the Overwork-Death Families’ Group told us their feelings; there was a report from Union Net on the Labor Bureau negotiations; and there was an appeal from Zenrokyo. Given that the event took place right after the referendum, some reckoned it a good turnout. With the venue only half-full, though, it still felt lonely. Nonetheless, as a union we want to do all we can.
From Osaka Zenrokyo News 2015.06.24 edition 287