To Embassy of Canada: You Cannot Ignore the Rights of Workers and Unions

Apr 4, 2023

Since April 1, 2023, newspapers have reported “General Union to Sue the Embassy of Canada for Unfair Labor Practices” (See the news articles here).

In the summer of 2022, it was discovered that a union member employed by the Embassy of Canada in Japan had not been enrolled in the Unemployment Insurance, as she should have been. At the time, the member was expecting the birth of her child in early 2023 and was under a dire situation: she would not be eligible for childcare leave benefits if she continued to not be enrolled in the system.

The General Union immediately sent a letter of request to the embassy, pointing out that it is the employer’s legal obligation to enroll locally hired employees in Unemployment Insurance, and requested the embassy to enroll the member.

We waited, but the embassy simply repeated, “We are inquiring with our government, so please wait.”

We could not wait forever, so we applied for collective bargaining in accordance with the Constitution and the Trade Union Act, demanding that the union member be immediately enrolled in Unemployment Insurance. However, the embassy kept repeating, “We are inquiring with our home government, so please wait a while.”

Finally, we sent a “warning letter” to the embassy, informing them that “if this situation continues, it will be a refusal of collective bargaining and we will have no choice but to sue you at the Labor Relations Commission for unfair labor practices.”

We immediately received a reply from the embassy. It said, “We respect Japanese law and the opinions of the General Union, and all decisions will be made internally at the embassy.” In other words, the response was a total refusal: “We are not obligated to enroll the union member in Unemployment Insurance, and we are not obligated to participate collective bargaining”.

The General Union then proceeded to sue the Embassy of Canada for unfair labor practices.

The rights of workers in Japan must be protected, regardless of their nationality or occupation. There are no exceptions.