General Union Structure
Our union is made up of many workplace and industrial branches. Branches are not independent unions but are made up of members working at the same employer or in the same industry. They work together to make demands to their employer, government agencies, or to groups of employers. The branch works democratically and members decide the activity of the branch as well as elect a branch chair and branch secretary-treasurer, as well as other officers who are responsible for coordinating organising in the workplace, and keeping the branch paid up and active. They also perform the vital role of liaising with the union officials at the General Union headquarters.
The union’s main governing body is the Annual General Meeting (AGM). It is made up of delegates elected by the branches based on the number of members. This body meets once a year in the spring where it votes on the union’s policy and elects the General Union Executive Committee (GUEC). While only delegates may vote at the AGM, it is open to all members who enjoy the right to speak on any topic.
The GUEC meets once per month and is made up of both volunteer and paid officers. There is a union chair, vice-chair(s), general secretary, treasurer, assistant general secretary(ies), and at-large officers. GUEC is responsible for approving branch demands and activity like strikes. The GUEC also runs the daily operation of the union, but as the union has regular and daily activity, the titled GUEC officers make up the union secretariat which meets once per week and may act in place of the GUEC.
The union also has paid officers who do a large portion of the union’s day to work activity along with elected workplace leaders. Currently, the union has three full-timers who are all elected by the AGM, and a number of part-time staff of which a number are also elected by the union delegates at the AGM.
The General Union is also a member of a national private-sector union called the National Union of General Workers (全国一般労働組合全国協議会 ZENKOKU IPPAN RODO KUMIAI ZENKOKU KYOUGIKAI) which in turn is affiliated to a national union federation named the National Trade Union Council (全国労働組合連絡協議会 ZENKOKU RODO KUMIAI RENRAKU KYOGIKAI – ZENROKYO for short). Zenrokyo is made up of public and private sector unions and is one of the three national trade union centres in Japan.
These bodies sometimes help the General Union deal with employers or government agencies as well as keep us attuned with the rest of the Japanese labour movement. General Union is not a foreigners’ OR foreign union. We are a normal part of the labour movement in Japan and act together with unions throughout the country.