Monday, January 26, 2009

“Firing temp workers is a crime by companies” ? It is time for trade unions to be at the forefront of finger-pointing”

On January 15, 2009, a “Fundamentally Revise the Worker Dispatch Law Now!” meeting was held at the Japan Education Center in central Tokyo and the venue was packed with 400 participants. The place was filled with excitement, following the success of the “Haken (dispatched workers) Village”. Many participants were moved by a story of a “villager”, who said, “I was saved by the Haken Village as I knew it on the day when I was prepared for suicide”. Yuasa Makoto, leader of the village, made the following proposal in the symposium, “The situation will be even worse. What we need to do is to pressure local governments nationwide into building shelters and opening consultation services. Koyano Takeshi, Takeshi Koyano, secretary general of Japan Construction and Trasport Industry Workers Solidarity Union, appealed, “Firing temporary workers before the termination of their contracts is the most serious crime committed by companies in postwar Japan. We, as a trade union, pursue the responsibility of big businesses as our role”. The epoch-making meeting was gathered by Rengo (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), Zenroren (National Confederation of Trade Unions) and Zenrokyo trade union confederation across their policy boundaries.



Israel, stop occupation and invasion to Gaza! Series of demos gathered by 1,500 and 250 in Tokyo

About 1,500 people gathered at a rally held by the “Light to Gaza! Jan 10 Peace Rally Executive Committee” (hosted by 12 groups, such as the Japan International Volunteer Center, or JVC, and Peace Boat) at Shiba Park in central Tokyo. The demonstrators, including many Palestinians and people from outside Japan, marched to the Roppongi district, calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza in the winter cold. On January 11, a “Speak-out and Demonstration: Israel, Stop Occupation and Invasion to Gaza!” meeting was held in Yotsuya, Tokyo. About 250 people joined the event. Abe Hiromi, expert on international human rights law; Ukai Satoshi, member of Teach-in Okinawa and professor of Hitotsubashi University; and Ogura Toshimaru, member of the People’s Plan Study Group delivered speeches there. Then, the participants walked in the Shinjuku district in the evening, chanting, “Free! Free! Palestine”, “No More Genocide”and“No More Occupation”.


 東京・芝公園に「1・10ガザに光を! ピースパレード実行委員会」(日本国際ボランティアセンター(JVC)、ピ-スボートなど12団体呼び掛け)の主催で約1500人が集まり、デモを行った。多くのパレスチナ人や外国人も参加し、寒空の下でイスラエルの即時停戦を叫びながら六本木まで行進した。また、11日、東京・四谷で「スピークアウト&デモ:イスラエルは占領とガザ侵攻をやめろ!」集会が開かれ、約250人が集まった。阿部浩己さん(国際人権法)・鵜飼哲さん(ティーチイン沖縄)・小倉利丸さん(ピープルズプラン研究所)らが集会で発言した。参加者はその後、「フリーフリー パレスチナ」「ジェノサイド ノーモア」「オキュペイション ノーモア」とシュプレヒコールをあげながら、夜の新宿をデモ行進した。

Why silent, Mitarai-san -- Open letter at Keidanren’s new-year party

Eight trade unions, leading ex-dispatched workers who were dismissed before their contracts would terminate, tried to present an “open letter” to Mitarai Fujio, president of Kendanren (Japan Federation of Economic Organizations) in the afternoon of January 6, 2009. The question was, “Why are you silent despite an increase in social instability as a result of the harsh dismissal of temporary and dispatched workers by Keidanren member companies, such as Canon and Toyota, while people and local governments are working hard to tackle the problem?” The demonstrators visited Hotel New Otani, where the federation’s new-year party was held. The lobby of the hotel was filled with more than a hundred persons including news reporters, making the hotel upset. The confusion continued as Keidanren refused to receive the letter, but it was finally settled down when the hotel decided to keep it. Mr. Mitarai hopefully felt the anger of the dismissed closely.
* Photo: Approaching the venue with the open letter in hand (Front: Hotel staffs stopping the demonstrators from entering)


 1月6日午後、派遣切りされた人を先頭に8つのユニオンが経団連御手洗会長に「公開質問状」を提出する行動が取り組まれた。質問内容は、「キヤノン・トヨタなど経団連の会員企業の乱暴な非正規職解雇の結果、社会不安が増大した。市民や自治体が奔走しているのに、あなたたちは何もしないのですか?」というもの。メンバーらは、交歓会が開かれているホテルニューオータニに乗り込んだ。受付ロビーはマスコミを含めた100人以上で埋まり、ホテル側は大あわて。経団連が受け取りを拒否したため混乱がつづいたが、ホテル側が質問状を預かることで決着をみた。御手洗会長も派遣切りされた人の怒りを身近に感じたにちがいない。(M) *写真=公開質問状を手に会場に向かう(手前は妨害するホテル側)

We can change society! ? “Haken Village” members march to the Parliament

On January 5, 2009, the “Year-Crossing Haken (dispatched workers) Village” set in Hibiya Park, central Tokyo, totally withdrew and more than 340 “villagers” moved to new facilities. The total number of “villagers” was about 500, and they were supported by about 1,700 volunteers. Donations sent to the village amounted to 23,150,000 yen. At a meeting before marching to the Parliament, Abe Makoto, Secretary General of Japan Community Union Federation, passionately said, “The Haken Village started small but achieved big. We acted together and reached hope for changing society. Let’s continue our action and struggle for achieving work without fear”. A long line of demonstrators to the Parliament was exactly a “march of the poor in anger”. Eventually, a meeting was held in the Diet building about the issue and many lawmakers joined it.



Haken Village moves the government ? MHLW Hall opened for overnight stay

“Villagers” of the “Haken (dispatched workers) Village” exceeded 300 as the new year came, well beyond its capacity. Therefore, the village strongly requested the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to support the “villagers”. As a result, the ministry was obliged to open its hall for overnight stay from January 2 (photo). This was epoch-making. A 53-year old man said in a joint interview in front of the hall, “I lost my job at a construction site on December 6 and had to sleep in a washroom of a park for three weeks. I managed to survive only with a piece of bread of 98 yen per day, but all of my money was only 3 yen when I arrived at the village. I really feel relieved here. I will apply for welfare benefits together with the fellow villagers next week”. All who came to the Haken Village were in dire straits.



Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hibiya Park Tent City Swells to 250 people. Organizations from Across the Board Volunteer to Help.

Some 130 jobless people, recently laid-off temp workers from Sharp Corporation and Yamaha, gathered to spend the New Year encamped at Hibiya Park “tent city” from December 31. There were some who literally did not have a cent to their name. After hearing about the tent city through the media, approximately 360 volunteers came to help and donated a mountain of goods. The traditional New Year’s dish of soba noodles with rice cake was given out for the evening meal (see photo). Many trade unions also turned out to volunteer their help. One trade unionist said: “Rengo, Zenroren and Zenrokyo have all turned out. We’ve all come together with one intention and that is that we have to do something. I hope this will be the beginning of a new movement.” On the nights of January 3rd and 4th, the videos “I want a normal job” and a three-minute recording from the Labor Fiesta respectively were shown in the Dialogue Tent. The number of campers continued to increase and at the time of writing this report (January 1st), had already swelled to over 250 people. NB: The Tent City eventually grew to more than 500 participants over the next few days. Click link to see video of the opening of the camp. Volunteers’ opinions available on UnionTube.


12月31日から東京・日比谷公園に開設された「年越し派遣村」には、シャープ亀山工場やヤマハから派遣切りされた労働者など、130人が入村した。所持金がゼロの人もいた。報道で知って駆けつけたボランティアは360人に達し、カンパ物資が山のように積まれた。夜の炊きだしは、餅入りそばが振るまわれた(写真)。労組のボランティアも多数集まった。ある組合活動家は「連合も全労連も全労協も来ている。なんとかしなくてはという思いで一緒だ。新しい運動が始まるといい」と語った。また3日夜に「フツーの仕事がしたい」、4日夜にはレイバーフェスタ3分ビデオが交流テントで上映される。その後、入村者は増え続け1日現在で250人をこえた。追伸:さらに数日後派遣村の入村者が500人をを超えた。 ・開村式(動画)ボランティアの声(UnionTube)

Several Hundred Protesters Gather In Front Of Embassy To Denounce Israeli Air Strikes.

On the afternoon of December 30, there was an emergency protest against the inhumane Israeli bombing of Gaza in Palestine. Some 100 people responded to the online call out and gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in Koujimachi, Tokyo, expressing their anger against the bombing. Despite police intimidation, protesters continued to gather in their numbers throughout the day. Placard-carrying protesters chanted: “Stop Israel’s bombings, Now!”, “Open dialogue with Hamas, No to Occupation!”, “Japanese Government should stop giving aid to the occupation!” A further 300 people gathered for the evening candlelight vigil called by Amnesty International. Reported by Y. Click here to see the demonstration on YouTube.


12月30日午後、パレスチナ自治区・ガザへの残虐非道な空爆を繰り返すイスラエルに対する抗議行動が取り組まれた。「イスラエルのガザ空爆に抗議する有志」がネット上で呼びかけた緊急行動だが、市民ら約100人が集まり、東京・麹町のイスラエル大使館に怒りの声をたたきつけた。警備陣の嫌がらせにもかかわらず、参加者が増え続け、さまざまなプラカードを手に「イスラエルは今すぐ空爆をやめろ」「ハマス政権と対話しろ、占領反対」「日本政府は、占領を支える援助をやめろ」などのシュプレヒコールをあげた。アムネスティなどが呼びかけた夕方の行動にも300人が集まり、ロウソクを灯して抗議した。(Y) ・動画(YouTube)

Unions Issue Joint Appeal To Fight Layoffs And Contract Terminations for Casual Workers

Unions gathered to issue their joint appeal to fight layoffs and contract terminations at 4pm on the 24th of December at the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s press club. The participants, who are facing redundancies and layoffs (see photo), included workers from Isuzu, Hino Motors, Nissan Diesel Motor, Mitsubishi Fuso, Toyota, and Oita Canon. Through collective bargaining, some unions have managed to reverse dismissals and have secured ongoing accommodation in the company dormitories. Despite these gains, however, there is no overall change to their dire situation. The unions jointly demanded that they want an immediate end to the mass sackings, employment and accommodation insurance, and stressed the companies’ social responsibilities. Joint action is also being planned in order to achieve these demands. One of the participants expressed frustration at what he saw as the indifference of regular employees towards casual workers being laid off (Photo of unionists issuing dismissal “red cards” to management).


12月24日午後4時、厚労省記者クラブで「派遣切り・期間工切り」とたたかうユニオンが一同に会し、共同アピールを行った。参加したのは、いすゞ・日野自動車・日産ディーゼル・三菱ふそう・トヨタ・大分キヤノンなどで、解雇や追い出しにあっている人たち(写真)。この間、団体交渉を行い、解雇撤回や寮の確保などの成果も上げているユニオンもある。しかし、全体に厳しい状況に変わりない。共同アピールでは、大量解雇の即時中止・雇用保障・住まいの保障を求め、企業の社会的責任を追及していくことを明らかにした。そのための共同行動も計画中である。また、会見のなかで、正社員の労組が「派遣切り」に無関心であることの問題が指摘された。 *写真=首切り経営者にレッドカード

DVD of “Winter Soldier: Testimonies on Iraq” completed.Testimonials of returning soldiers from Iraq.

“Winter Soldier: Testimonies on Iraq”, a DVD recording of the testimonials of returning soldiers from Iraq has been completed. In March last year, “Winter Soldier”, a historically significant public hearing was held in a suburb of Washington. Some 50 returning soldiers from Iraq gave their testimonies on what they had been doing in Iraq. Their accounts told of actions in Iraq that can only be described as crimes. Speaker after speaker spoke of the systematic murder, violence, and about the most unspeakable, horrendous acts that they were forced to commit. I was moved by these returning soldiers’ courage and wanted to communicate this in the DVD. I urge people to see this DVD and to understand the war crime that is the Iraq War, but to also see the courageous stance being taken by these young US returning soldiers in opposition to the war. (Written by Jyuichi Tabo). Click here for the “Winter Soldiers” homepage.

イラク帰還兵の証言集会 DVD「冬の兵士・良心の告白」が完成

イラク帰還兵の証言を記録したDVD「冬の兵士・良心の告白」が完成しました。今年の3月、ワシントン郊外でウィンターソルジャー(冬の兵士)と呼ばれる歴史的に重要な公聴会が開催されました。イラク戦争に従軍したおよそ50人の帰還兵が、自分たちが何をしてきたのかを証言したのです。それは犯罪としか言いようがない事実でした。人殺し、暴行、およそ人が犯してはならない最もおぞましい犯罪を、彼らは組織的に強要されていたと代わる代わる証言しました。私は、これを聞きながら、帰還兵たちの勇気に感動し、それを伝えたいと思いました。ぜひ、このDVDを見てイラク戦争という犯罪の軌跡を知ってほしい。そして、それと立ち向かっているアメリカの若い帰還兵達の真摯な姿を見てほしい、と思います。(田保寿一) ・「冬の兵士」HP 

Labor Fiesta 2008: Satire, Humor and Rage.

On December 20th, 280 people gathered to enjoy the Labor Fiesta 2008 held in Tokyo. The annual three-minute homemade videos were mostly taken onsite showing people’s concerns of the harsh reality of being a non-regular worker. Most videos mixed in humour, and both anger and laughter could be heard. In the “Working Poor Comic Haiku” competition, the following haiku was voted best:

Please, give us a break!
We were always “casual”,
women’s work goes on.

In the discussion of “The Power of Culture”, Akira Matsubara(Labornet Japan) commented that: “I consider the power of culture to be in satire, humor and rage. All of the works reflect the times, and I can deeply sympathize with them all. I think that solidarity will emerge once we realize that other’s problems are our own too”. The evening entertainment climaxed with the live performance by Soul Flower, and participants started dancing along to the Internationale (see photo). Video available on UnionTube.

風刺と笑いと怒り~レイバーフェスタ2008 開かれる

12月20日「レイバーフェスタ2008」が都内で開催され、280人が集い楽しんだ。恒例の3分ビデオは当事者が現場から発信したものばかりで、非正規のひどい実態を訴える作品が並んだ。ユーモアを交えたものが多く、怒りと笑いが交差した。「ワーキングプア川柳」では「ふざけるな 女性は前から 非正規だ」の句が一番に選ばれた。「文化の力」をテーマにしたディスカッションで松原明さん(レイバーネット副代表)は、「文化の力は、風刺と笑いと怒りにあると思う。今回の作品群は、時代を反映して身につまされるものばかり。そんな“他人事ではない”という意識から連帯が生まれるのではないか」と語った。最後のソウル・フラワーのライブで会場の熱気はピークに達し、「インターナショナル」の時には参加者が踊り出す場面(写真)もあった。 ・動画(UnionTube)