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HOME  > Past issues  > 2011 April 6 - 12  > Gov’t still refuses to give public workers the right to strike
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2011 April 6 - 12 TOP3 [LABOR]

Gov’t still refuses to give public workers the right to strike

April 6, 2011
The government on April 5 decided not to grant the right to strike to national government workers, rejecting repeated recommendations by the ILO. The government, however, approved the right of public workers, with the exception of the police, to bargain collectively.

The reform of the civil servant system is aimed at slashing the number of government employees. This will lead to an erosion of their neutrality and fairness.

Under the reform, a Cabinet personnel bureau will be established to replace the present National Personnel Authority. The planned Cabinet personnel bureau will supervise executive officials of the ministries and various government agencies in order to create a mechanism to ensure that personnel will be obedient to power. The reform maintains the corrupt “Amakudari” practice in effect.

What is required in a progressive reform of the public workers’ system is: guarantee of fundamental labor rights, including the right to strike; the right to collective bargaining to prison guards and firefighters; guarantee of political and civil liberties; and promotion of neutrality and fairness of pubic workers.

However, this so-called reform only allows the right to negotiation between the Cabinet personnel bureau and public workers regarding working conditions and salary. However, without the right to strike, negotiations will obviously favor the employer. Although workers ostensibly have the right to collective bargaining, this right may turn out to be on paper only.

The Democratic Party of Japan-led government is seeking an increase in the consumption tax rate in return for major cutbacks in the number of government workers to convince the public that it is cutting government waste.

Personnel cuts in the public sector, however, will undermine the quality and integrity of public services. Given that many people now understand that a sufficient number of government workers are necessary to deal with public needs such as the recent example of providing proper disaster relief, the structural reform that has promoted cuts in the number of public workers is understood to be wrong.
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