Today, let’s take a look at three shiny new news items from the gossip columns that take on a different sheen when examined under the piercing light of labor law. These human-interest stories have a common theme, which I’ll address later. But first, the stories:
This month’s Labor Pains is not really about a labor issue per se. The life of a worker is more than work. We don’t toil from cradle to grave.
There are times when we cannot work due to sickness or injury, although in Japan, many force themselves to labor through both, as indeed my translator and editor happen to be doing at this very moment. Unhealthy devotion to work is a serious problem in our society, so I’m a bit of a hypocrite to ask them for their help despite their painful injuries.
There are also times when we cannot find work despite being able-bodied. Today, I’d like to talk about the system in place to protect you when all other safety nets fail. I want to discuss the difference in the rights foreign and Japanese citizens have when it comes to seikatsu hogo, or welfare. I want to dispel the profound misunderstandings surrounding the 2014 Supreme Court verdict about the right foreign residents have — or don’t have — to welfare.
Devant l’obstination de la direction qui n’a rien voulu entendre, et qui trouve que passer à des contrats de 6 mois en lieu et place des contrats annuels actuels ne consiste pas en une dégradation des conditions de travail – quelle ironie quand on pense que la direction de l’IFJ est constituée en grande partie de fonctionnaires de l’Etat avec sécurité de l’emploi -, les membres du SEI de l’Institut Français de Tokyo ont fait grève aujourd’hui 27 février 2016. C’était une première depuis 25 ans à l’Institut de Tokyo.
Le Syndicat des Employés de l’Institut (SEI) de l’Institut Français du Japon à Tokyo, branche de Tozen, a adressé à la direction de l’Institut Français du Japon (IFJ), un avertissement d’entrée en dispute officielle, qui prendra effet le 26 février 2016 au soir, si la direction ne revient pas sur ses projets de précarisation générale des conditions de travail. La dispute officielle au Japon est l’étape légale nécessaire pour pouvoir conduire des actions syndicales telles que manifestations, tractages et grèves.
The Tokyo Labor Commission ruled Monday morning that Japan College of Foreign Languages (JCFL, a division of Bunsai Gakuen) had illegally interfered with Tozen Union’s leafleting actions in front of the school. Tozen Union and its JCFL Local claimed that management sent employees out to block the union from passing out leaflets and made the union look bad.
The commission ruled in favor of the union, ordering management to cease all such interference and to post a large sign apologizing to the union at the workplace for ten days.
The victory was thanks to the relentless struggle of the local.
9:25 pm, January 14, 2016
TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will launch a probe to identify companies neglecting their obligation to have employees join the appropriate public pension scheme, officials have said.
A ministry survey has found that an estimated 2 million people have not joined the “kosei nenkin” scheme for corporate employees even though they are legally required to do so. These people stay in the “kokumin nenkin” program for other people, including the self-employed, instead.
In Japan, incorporated businesses and sole proprietors who employ five or more people are obliged to have their workers join the corporate pension program.
Under the kosei nenkin scheme, employers cover half of the employees’ pension premiums. The workers participating in the program will be entitled to extra benefits that add to the basic pension provided under the kokumin nenkin program.
The seniors I teach at Sagami Women’s University have already handed in their final dissertations and now await graduation in March. You can feel that a heavy burden has been lifted from their shoulders: “My friends and I are going to Fiji for our graduation trip”; “I’ve already reserved the traditional gown I’m going to wear to the graduation ceremony.”
In April they will go out into the world as shakaijin, or full-fledged adult members of society. As I’ve mentioned before, graduation and finding employment are seen as a single event in Japan. Students at university weigh up their strengths and interests, research the industry they aspire to join, perhaps do an internship, and then apply and interview for jobs. This whole process is called shūkatsu.
If an employer says they want you to start next April, then that is effectively an official promise of employment, or naitei. In a previous column, I explained that the employer is, in a sense, legally bound by the naitei, but today I would like to discuss the obligations of the prospective employee.
All of my current students have already received their naitei from assumed future employers. Many companies insist that students affix their personal seal to a written pledge to work for them.