Workshop on a future Labour Contract Law of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
13 September 2005
- Yesterday on 12 September, the workshop on a future labour contract law of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (chair: Kazuo Sugeno, Professor of the Meiji University) held the last meeting and completed its final report. The workshop published an interim report in April 2005 and invited public comments. RENGO expressed its concern that the labour contract law will not be beneficial for workers and trade unions if the current direction is not to be corrected and asked for its review. However, it is highly regrettable that our opinion was totally ignored in the final report.
- Individual labour disputes have been vastly increasing due to the change of the environment of labour contract such as diversification of employment and working patterns. RENGO believes that labour contract law which defines the rights and duties of workers and employers in terms of conclusion, development and expiry of contract is needed for a settlement and prevention of such disputes. It therefore, adopted the “outline of the proposed labour contract law” in 2001 and since then it has demanded its enactment. The report advocates the needs of legislation of labour contract law and RENGO shares the same opinion.
- However, the report contains some problems. The biggest problems among others are: 1. the labour management committee, of which the function essentially differs from a trade union is to be given an important function such as consulting over determination and change of working conditions, and judging rationality of change in working regulations; 2. It will prevent reinstatement of workers who won a ruling that invalidate the dismissal by introducing a system of financial settlement; 3. With an introduction of a system where labour contract can be changed while workers continue to be employed, it could urge the workers to make a choice between change in working conditions or dismissal; 4. An introduction of exemption for white collar workers emasculates a principle of working hours and could encourage long working hours. With all these points, it cannot be labour contract law for workers and RENGO cannot accept it.
- Hereafter, it is expected that labour contract law will be deliberated at the labour policy council. The workshop report is by nature a report by researchers and it is not a tentative plan for the deliberation of the council. It is difficult to examine every aspects of extensive labour contract law in short time. RENGO will block the labour contract law which the workshop indicated and will work with its affiliates and local RENGO associations, aiming at legislation of labour contract law for workers and trade unions based on the proposed outline by RENGO.