Festival for workers: 78th May Day Rally held
28 April 2007
On April 28, RENGO held the 78th May Day Central Rally in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo. Approximately 43,000 people participated.
Under the slogan: ‘Worker’s solidarity—creating a welfare state and a free and peaceful world through striving together for peace, human rights, worker’s welfare and the environment,” this year’s rally particularly focused on ‘Stopping the social disparities and many NGOs and NPOs participated in the program. Over 60 booths were set up by NPOs, political parties and trade unions at the ‘Networking Plaza’ which took place alongside the Rally.
President Takagi makes a speech (April 28, Yoyogi Park)
Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yanagisawa represents the government at the Rally
RENGO President Takagi, representing the organizing committee, commented in his speech that the biggest issue which we will have to deal with for the foreseeable future is the growing discrepancies in society and the polarization of haves and have-nots. “The amendment bill for the Part Time Workers Law is hopelessly inadequate in terms of achieving equal treatment. Measures to bring into balance the current wealth discrepancies, especially reducing the income gap, as well as measures to achieve equal pay for work of equal value are also necessary.” Takagi continued by commenting on the government roundtable discussion on promoting strategies to push up the economic growth rate: “discussions on raising the minimum wage are the first step towards correcting the present social discrepancies.” He also expressed his determination “to root out illegal temporary employment practices and disguised contract work.”
On the results of this year’s Shunto Spring Wage Campaign, Takagi commented that although a marginally higher wage level than last year was achieved, there was still a lot of work to do in order to achieve a greater rate of distribution of profits to labor and to correct the distortion in corporations’ distribution of added value. “We would like to hold discussions with the management side at the earliest opportunity to see what they think of the Shunto outcomes. We should like to start planning for next year’s Shunto campaign as soon as possible, taking into account this year’s results.”
On the so-called ‘Labor Big Bang’ Takagi said “We must pay very careful attention to this debate to ensure that the dignity of workers does not just fall through the cracks.” On the Upper House election to be held in July, Takagi called on all participants to give their best effort to force a reversal of the government/opposition number of seats in the Upper House. “This election is a very important step towards taking the reigns of government in the future.” Finally Takagi spoke about the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), saying that RENGO would take active part in the peace movement, in solidarity with our international brothers and sisters. He ended his speech with an appeal to commit to strengthen RENGO’s campaigns in order to achieve improvement in worker’s rights and lives and a healthy and democratic Japan.
As part of the proceedings, the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare, Mr. Yanagisawa, the Deputy Governor of Tokyo, Yasuo Sekitani, Ichiro Ozawa, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan and Mizuho Fukushima, leader of the Social Democratic Party of Japan also made brief speeches. This was followed by RENGO Secretary General Koga proposing the ‘May Day Declaration’ which included correcting social and wealth discrepancies, implementing proper work rules and winning the Upper House election. This was adopted, along with the ‘RENGO-NPO/NGO Joint Message’ which pledged to work together for a society where the potential of all human beings can be realized. The Rally finished with a ‘Ganbaro (fight!)’ cheer led by RENGO Deputy President Morikoshi.
Alongside the Rally, the brass bands from 6 different universities in Tokyo and RENGO trade union members paraded through the streets of Shibuya, in central Tokyo, in honor of May Day. After the Rally proceedings had finished, a gathering for part time and fixed-term contract workers was held in the open-air music stadium under the slogan Creating a more equal society.’ Part time workers held discussions with Sakurada, Chair of the ‘Part-time workers joint struggle committee’ and RENGO Assistant General Secretary Yamaguchi on the present situation and issues regarding implementation of equal treatment for part time workers.
|Leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, Ichiro Ozawa||General Secretary Koga proposes the May Day Declaration||Representatives from Shaplaneer (NPO) and RENGO propose the Joint Message|