KOGA Says! RENGO's Statement by General Secretary

KOGA says!
Labour Contract Law Enacted

28 November 2007
RENGO’s Statement by General Secretary Koga
Today on November 28, 2007, the Labour Contract Law Bill was passed in the Extraordinary Session of the House of Councilors (the Upper House) and consequently was enacted in the Diet. The Bill was originally submitted to the 166th Ordinary Session of the Diet in 2007 but had been left to be a continuous deliberation. With a counterproposal made by the Democratic Party of Japan in the current 168 Extraordinary Session of the Diet, the Bill was amended and came to be enacted. In a situation in which types of employment and work are diversifying and individual labour disputes are increasing, the Labour Contract Law which stipulates the rights and responsibilities of both workers and employers is very important for the workers themselves. There are indeed some insufficient points in the Law, but we appreciate its enactment in the current session of the Diet.

Since JTUC-RENGO confirmed “The Outline of the Main Points of the Draft Labour Contract Law” at its 7th Convention Held in October 2001, it had wrestled with the enactment of the Law for six years. Every time the issue was taken up at the Sub-Committee on Working Conditions or at the deliberation in the Diet, JTUC-RENGO organized nation-wide street campaigns, study activities and decision-making at workplaces, publication activities and others. The enactment of the Labour Contract Law is a great achievement of the efforts of all the concerned people including our affiliates and local RENGOs.

In the Draft Bill submitted to the Diet by the Government, there were originally six points of concern. Firstly, in its Article 1, it said unlike the Outline of the Main Points of the Draft Labour Contract Law that “the objective of the Law is to stipulate the relationship between labour contracts and working rules.” Secondly, in its Article 4, it said that “the workers’ understanding of the contents of the labour contract after concluding or renewing it should be deepened,” which means that a labour contract can be renewed without the workers’ understanding of the contents. Thirdly, in its Article 5, it said that “the employer, through labour contract, should pay necessary attentions for ... ”, which means that as far as employer’s duty to safety is not stipulated in labour contract, there will be no employer’s duty to safety. Fourthly, in its Article 7 which deals with the case which work regulations are made well known to the workers, there is a possibility that the working conditions are changed by formulating a new work regulation. Fifthly, Article 14 ought to stipulate the definition of temporary transfer maintaining original registration, but it may include “temporary transfer as duty work.” Lastly, in its Article 17, it said that as to the dismissal during the fixed-term employment, the burden to prove “there is no unavoidable reason” should be borne by the workers. These six points of concern could be resolved by amending the draft bill. Moreover, by amending the draft bill, “consideration to equilibrium” and “work-life balance” were included in Article 3 which stipulates the Principle of Labour Contract, although it is in the form of a declaration, and also “particulars related with fixed-term labour contract” were inserted in Article 4 which stipulates Written Confirmation of Labour Contract.

The Labour Contract Law was born in a small form with only 19 articles. From now on, JTUC-RENGO, keeping an eye on its operation, will continue its campaigns to call for strengthening its substantiality by including “the workers in economically subservient relationship,” supply of information on labour contract and how to explain about it, appropriate protection of fixed-term contract workers, and so forth.