KOGA Says! RENGO's Statement by General Secretary

KOGA says!
Statement on “How fundamental labour rights ought to be in the public service” reported by the Special Examination Committee of the Headquarters for the Promotion of Administrative Reforms.

19 October 2007
RENGO’s Statement by General Secretary Koga
  1. The Special Examination Committee of the Headquarters for the Promotion of Administrative Reforms (chaired by Professor Tsuyoshi Sasaki of Gakushuin University, hereafter called the Committee) summed up their discussions and issued a report today on “How fundamental labour rights ought to be in the public service”. Concerning the direction of the reform, the Committee in its report noted that “it is necessary to change the existing system to one under which the labour and the management autonomously determine working conditions” and “for a certain type of clerical employees in the public service, the right to conclude collective agreements should be granted···”. The Committee has held a series of discussions since July last year on the basis of the agreements reached between JTUC-RENGO and the Government in their negotiation which acknowledged the need of “changing the existing labour-management relations in the public service” and “ extensive examination of such relations including a possibility of granting the fundamental labour rights”. Representing the Japanese labour movement, JTUC-RENGO has been keen to have their views reflected in these discussions towards establishing the fundamental labour rights.
  2. Concerning the reform of the public service system, JTUC-RENGO has presented various proposals on the basis of Interim report published on June 23, 2004 by its Study group on the reform of public service system. In 2002, we filed a complaint with the ILO against the Japanese government which was trying to unilaterally reform the public service system while maintaining the existing restrictions on the fundamental labour rights. The ILO responded to the complaints by making recommendations 3 times, all of which noted that the situation be rectified. In light of the view indicated, the only obvious progress we may find in this report by the Committee is “granting the right to conclude collective agreements to certain public employees in non-operational sector” and “establishing employers’ organ at the national level”. It is deplorable, however to find the report calling for “a careful decision” from the point of possible cost involved in granting the fundamental right, which gives an excuse to the government for putting off the reform. Concerning the “right to organize”, “the right to strike” and “the labour-management consultation system”, we have to say that the Committee’s report is quite unsatisfactory in that it does not go further than enumerating both affirmative and negative views. However, in view of the fact little reform has taken place during the past 60 years under the present public service legislation system despite a number of proposals made by various Government’s councils for the public service system reform, it is extremely important that this Committee has proposed to reform the present framework of fundamental labour rights in the public service. As for “enhancing accountability to the people” noted in the report, it is necessary for the labour and the management to positively accept this view, since the labour-management relations in the public service must be placed under the democratic process open to the public.
  3. Although the Report indicates the ”Controversial points to be examined in shaping up the reform”, it fails to clarify any direction since it only enumerates divided views on specific important issues involved in “granting the right to conclude collective agreements to certain non-operational (white-collar) public employees”. For a reform to ”establish autonomy in the labour- management relations” as indicated in the report, it is essential to discuss the issue of granting the right to strike which is supposed to facilitate the proper functioning of the rights to organize and to bargain collectively, so that it is important to have further and thorough discussion on this issue to draw a conclusion and to work for detailed plans. These works should not be unilaterally left to the hands of the responsible government organ which functions as the employers’ secretariat, instead transparent and sincere negotiations should take place through an organ represented by both the management and the labour to work on detailed plans as a step leading to a new labour-management consultation system.
  4. This Report, along with the conclusion drawn by the Prime Minister’s Advisory Panel on Comprehensive Reforms of Public Service Personnel System is to be incorporated into the basic bill concerning the reform of the public service system slated to be presented by the government to the next ordinary session of the Diet. We should not allow this report to be shelved just like preceding proposals presented by similar councils on reform of the public service system. It is necessary to carry out the reform, steadily and promptly, of the labour-management relation system in the public service focusing on their fundamental labour rights, and to establish public service system accountable and responding to the needs of the people. Representing the whole labour movement in Japan, JTUC-RENGO continues to share its part for this objective together with our member organizations.