Promoting the Swiftness of Examining Labour Relations Commissions' Cases

16 December 2003

Tadayoshi KUSANO
General Secretary

  1. The Labour Policy Council’s Section Meeting on the Labour Relations Commissions (LRCs) Reform today announced a report on measures to promote the swiftness of examinations of LRCs. LRCs have been criticised for many years for delay in examining cases and a high rate for their orders to be withdrawn at the stage of judicial examinations. The current judicial reform process gives an opportunity to address such long-standing criticism and makes possible the reform of LRCs, although partially.

  2. Concrete measures include: 1) to introduce the planned examination system, 2) to issue an order by the meeting of public-interest commissioners without a consensus of labour and employer sides to produce evidence and to subpoena witness, 3) to restrict production of new evidence in a suit following a withdrawal of LRCs' order, and 4) to introduce full-time public-interest commissioners, to establish subcommittee system, and to improve training programmes for Commissions’ staff.

  3. These measures are aimed at strengthening the structure of LRCs that are now to be considered as quasi-judicial institutions. To this end, oaths by witnesses and exclusion of a public-interest commissioner by a legal reason or an objection of the person concerned would be introduced. LRCs have not only judgement but also coordination functions; the latter of which is the most important. In this context, Rengo is concerned about the introduction of oaths and exclusion, which would make LRCs more court- and civil suit-like.

    Furthermore, it would be made possible that an objection, or even an administrative litigation, to the order for producing evidence or the subpoena issued by a local LRC be submitted to the Central LRC. Although being a procedure to be taken by a quasi-judicial institution, this would go against the promotion of the swiftness. An attention should be paid to the implementation of the objection procedure to avoid further delay of examinations.

  4. Remaining problems to be solved include the "substantial evidence rule" in the judicial examination of an LRC order, and the omission of a lower court’ examination so that the examination of an order issued by both local and Central LRCs would start at the level of a high court. Proposed changes do not complete overall reform of LRCs as a reliable dispute panel. Rengo will remain vigilant over further reform processes of LRCs.