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Lawmakers scuffle over controversial temp worker bill

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I must admit, I don't understand the difference between the situation as it is now and how it will be under a new law. I thought temps could only be employed for three years now.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Japan voted LDP, you reap what you sow. LDP is again having their way, just gave the keys to the chicken house to the wolves. BTW, Gran pappy Kishi "rammed" the Security Treaty back in 1960 as well. I guess, the Abe clan told bon bon Abe to follow in the family tradition.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

I must admit, I don't understand the difference between the situation as it is now and how it will be under a new law. I thought temps could only be employed for three years now.

Not all positions are limited to three years, I've worked in one place under yearly contracts for 9 years.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

For example Foreign assistant language teachers are commonly dispatched throughout Japan. They work 8 hour days 5 days a week but are considered part time. Recently because this new bill is coming all ALTs in Nara have been sacked with no notice for a period of 3 months. The reason is the Board of Education in Nara does not want the responsibility of hiring ALTs full time. The terrible thing is the ALTs in Nara have been given 2-1 month extended contracts with no warning of this event happening. Secondly some of the ALTs have not even been working for 3 years but to simplify things it is easier for the Nara Board of Education to just sack everyone and change to a new dispatch company. This is a really dumb bill with terrible consequences for not only ALTs but all dispatched workers open to abuse even by government departments. I think this explains the consequences clearly.

25 ( +25 / -0 )

In theory, there is nothing wrong with hiring temp workers. Such arrangements can suit both a worker who needs a job and an employer with nagging doubts about the health of the economy that is reluctant to hire full-time or permanent staff. But for the worker, the choice is frequently between no job and a temp job with below-market wages and no benefits. Temp work arrangements can be useful to both employers and employees, but as we know it has been linked to exploitation. The fact that temporary workers make less and have no benefits is really problematic in Japan. If we could do away with that inequality I would be all in favor of it.

You see that with younger people who are entering the workforce. There's a change in employee expectations of what the labor market has to offer them. It is creating a myth that it's bad for the bottom line to invest in workers, even though numerous studies show that's not true. Employers are very clear in telling workers that they're 'at-will' employees. The rhetoric has changed, and they don't want to build up expectations of regular work. The big push should be on improving the wages and conditions of temporary workers. It should be made far easier for them to migrate to permanent jobs and for workers of all descriptions to move more freely between companies.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Things have slipped so far so fast under LDP rule over the past 30 years (and we must remember opposition parties have been mostly made up of former LDPers). This used to be the great byodo (equallity) society with full employment for most. Now lawmakers are fighting over whether some poor Taro or Sakurako can keep his or her low-paying temp job for more than 3 years.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Hear hear on the over 20 years on one year contracts. Quite unstable. When the kids were young it was no big deal but now worrying year after year takes its toll. The situation of young ones having to make a choice between paying rent , eating and paying health and pension premiums is dire.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

The current law permitting the use of temporary workers has been severely abused by companies in Japan. In some offices in Tokyo over 80% of the employees are now temporary workers. The original sponsors of the law never intended for companies to use such a large percentage of temporary workers. The problem is like many laws in Japan, very few restrictions were placed on using temps and there are no punishments for abusing the law. The Japanese government should go further in revising the law. A cap should be placed on the percentage of temps that can be used at any given time. Force the money grubbers to hire people full-time or do without needed human resources.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Yubaru, sure .... with no promotions, no pay increase (at least no major ones), no job security and so on.

Hey don't shoot the messenger I was just answering a question.

Yearly contracts is another way to save money .... I mean the emploer will save, of course! And if you can tell me that it's not so, please, make me smart. Because I am in the same position with one-year-contracts for 23 years now!

I worked in a place where Japanese employees were re-contracted yearly and after a few of them had been going through that yearly cycle for 10 years the employer got into labor trouble with the labor standards office who told them that after so many years they had to give cause for not hiring them full time. The business changed their tactics and forced all the Japanese workers who wanted to stay on to yearly take the employment test or quit. All of them quit.

I agree it's a savings for the employee and I believe the government needs to put some teeth into the law. I lived a long time here on yearly contracts and know it sucks big time. I took a rather large pay cut but managed to get hired full-time (with bonuses too) and the job security factor makes up for the cut in pay. Eventually the pay will equal out, but I feel for you and hope something works out for you.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

american_bengoshiJun. 13, 2015 - 07:49AM JST

The original sponsors of the law never intended for companies to use such a large percentage of temporary workers.

Yes they did. It was always Koizumi's intention for the present situation to arise.

At the beginning of the 21st Century, during the China boom which helped to sustain the Japanese economy, the LDP had a breathing space, with the weak yen, to transform Japan to the next stage of a developed economy.

It could either develop an international service/IT economy driven by domestic consumption or it could carry on with the now dysfunctional model of manufacturing export driven economy.

The LDP decided to go for the latter and put Japan in direct competition with Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean workers. For any chance to make this happen and stop Japanese companies hollowing out their domestic manufacturing base, the government had to legislate to make labor costs competitive with those in the competitive countries

Ergo sum.... the dispatch laws. Probably the biggest mistake by a Japanese government since December 7th 1941.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

I wonder what will happen with all the university positions, where teachers are fired after a few years precisely because the universities refuse to give tenure positions to almost anyone.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Gary Raynor: agree completely.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Open your own business and watch it grow, then see what you think about hiring part timers to help you out.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Gary Raynor JUN. 13, 2015 - 08:02AM JST The LDP decided to go for the latter and put Japan in direct competition with Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean workers. For any chance to make this happen and stop Japanese companies hollowing out their domestic manufacturing base, the government had to legislate to make labor costs competitive with those in the competitive countries

The emergence of contingent work isn't confined to Japan. If you look at 10 other industrial countries, including Australia, Italy, Germany and the U.S.,the kind of standard, full-time employment that was once a feature of the labor market is increasingly a thing of the past. In the last three decades, most European countries have seen a decline in permanent employment.

Driving that change, the employers' preference for "flexible" work practices that allow them to adjust their staffing levels as competitive forces change. In the 80's, as global competition intensified, corporate leaders and human resources executives began to re-think the very idea of employment. The focus shifted away from providing employees with stability and financial security to one that maximized corporate flexibility in managing workers. Such policies became standard practice.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is yet another reason why I don't want to work for anyone other than myself. If you are going to be a part-time contract worker for an employer, you can of course expect to get screwed over. And the opposite is also true, many employers get screwed over when they are forced to hire a person full-time, most Japanese companies are not exactly prospering nowadays. But workers and employers are both screwed over by mixed-up government regulations, which over the years have been implemented mainly to buy votes and extort monetary support from businesses for politicians. The LPD, DPJ, and others are all complicit in this, and rather than trying to do more things to help workers and/or employers, they should instead focus on undoing all the damage they have caused under the guise of "help" over the past 5 decades.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

"In the 80's, as global competition intensified"

The public was told this was a good thing, not a bad thing, remember?

"Competition makes us stronger" was the mantra not just by big business but by conservative and middle-road "pro-business" politicians who have since been consistently elected. Yeah, who needs unions.

How sadly wrong this worldview was. Time for a paradigm shift.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Gary Raynor at Jun. 13, 2015 - 08:02AM JST

It could either develop an international service/IT economy driven by domestic consumption or it could carry on with the now dysfunctional model of manufacturing export driven economy.

I agree with what you say about the intention to make labour costs competitive, but I don't think it's because of decision to choose manufacturing over services.

The UK chose to concentrate on services, and is now in exactly the same situation (part time workers, no job security). Service jobs can be very easily moved to lower wage countries. For example banks moved their call centres to India. Another example is outsourcing IT projects to India.

In fact the government in

0 ( +0 / -0 )

sfjp330Jun. 13, 2015 - 08:43AM JST

The emergence of contingent work isn't confined to Japan. If you look at 10 other industrial countries, including Australia, Italy, Germany and the U.S.,the kind of standard, full-time employment that was once a feature of the labor market is increasingly a thing of the past. In the last three decades, most European countries have seen a decline in permanent employment.

Nobody is disputing that, but Japan holds itself up to a higher interactional standards than the cold occidental economic models and from the time of PM Ikeda, at the beginning of 1960, economically it did have higher economic qualities than the West, by the LDP policy of doubling income in less than a decade.

However the Japanese elites still perpetuate the same one line mantra of 'Japanese Uniqueness', when Japan has just become a mirror image of the Anglo-Saxon economic model and as I said in reply to American_bengoshi, Koizumi's intent with implementing the dispatch laws is exactly was has come to be.

The problem for Japan is that the cultural values of old have remained very much entrenched. Marriage potential, aspirations and status are still very much determined by what one does, rather than what one is. While Western societies have largely molded with the new economic reality, Japan has not and as a result the societal repercussions of the changed economic model are much graver in Japan's case that the USA, UK or Australia.

Japan has 2 choices. Either to try and return to the economic model of old or change the societal values of old. The Japanese elites have kicked the can down the road and decided to choose neither; making it much worse for future generations.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) plans to swiftly enact the bill designed to encourage temporary workers to get full-time jobs, as part of an initiative to speed up deregulation.

While I would be the first to support efforts by Abe to address the ridiculous way the labor market in Japan is regulated, this is a very poor way of going about it. Japan needs the "third arrow", deperately. But not by the LDP simply shoving legislation down everyone's throats.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Gary Raynor at Jun. 13, 2015

It could either develop an international service/IT economy driven by domestic consumption or it could carry on with the now dysfunctional model of manufacturing export driven economy.

I agree with what you say about the intention to make labour costs competitive, but I don't think it's because of decision to choose manufacturing over services in Japan.

The UK chose to concentrate on services, and is now in a very similar situation as Japan (part time workers, no job security). Service jobs can be very easily moved to lower wage countries. For example banks moved their call centres to India. Another example is outsourcing IT projects to India.

In fact the government in the UK has been attempting (mainly unsuccessfully) to revive British manufacturing. However most of the skills are now lost.

But there are now a few examples of companies that are moving manufacturing back to the UK due to a combination of rising costs abroad and the reputational advantages of being able to market a product as being made in the UK (mainly for textiles, clothes etc, not electronics!).

Japan never lost it's manufacturing base, and has millions of people employed in this sector. Japan also has a great reputation for manufactured goods, so surely makes sense to concentrate on this area.

If you compare Japan to the UK, then it becomes evident that the increase in part time jobs and the lack of job security isn't down to the concentration on manufacturing. Instead it's due to general globalisation factors present in both the service and manufacturing industries, and the governments' responses (make workforce more flexible).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Gary Raynor JUN. 13, 2015 - 09:08AM JST Japan has 2 choices. Either to try and return to the economic model of old or change the societal values of old. The Japanese elites have kicked the can down the road and decided to choose neither; making it much worse for future generations.

It won't happen. Japanese firms do high percentage of their manufacturing overseas, twice as much as in the early 90's. Many companies want to keep domestic production, but quickly losing competitiveness. There are longer-term factors, besides the favorable yen's exchange rate, pushing firms abroad. One is productivity. Overseas subsidiaries have profit margins about one-third higher than those of domestic operations. Other benefit is taxes. Japan's effective corporate tax rate is the highest among G20 countries, and almost twice that of South Korea. The rise of overseas production may be a boon to Japanese firms, but it causes pain in the country as a whole. Japan lost domestic production and millions of full time jobs because of operations moving overseas. Perhaps it is too late for workers to protest. Firms have already torn up the post-war social contract by hiring temporary and contract employees, rather than regular ones entitled to bonuses, training and job protection. And the idea that Japan will at least keep the most sophisticated manufacturing jobs is wishful thinking.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Double the minimum wage for temp workers. This way, employers will be forced to employ them as full time workers if the intention is for long term. If it is genuinely temporary needs, then the company would not mind paying a little extra. If the government will not accept this suggestion, the temp workers can always form a union to negotiate the terms and conditions. If it is true that current percentage of temp workers are as high as reported, then it is a force to be reckon with.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

sfjp330Jun. 13, 2015 - 09:33AM JST

It won't happen.

Again, I agree, thus why Abenomics, apart from being idiotic, was always incomplete. A long term 4th arrow which is concerned with changing the society's values, was/has been needed for the last 30 year

But we know... it will never happen.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

The bottom line is, Japanese temporary employees will be put in a lot unstable and weaker position. It is said that this bill has been lobbied by one dominant temporary resourcing company so that the temporary resourcing industry can provide Japanese companies with skilled workers who will be a lot cheaper and more disposable.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Appalling. Who would work in Japan now?? Stay away.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

There is desperate requirement for the fundamental restructuring and transformation of the Japanese corporate model employment system. A shade over 59% of the workforce (Sei-syain) are employed under full time indefinite-term employment contracts. Now theoretically under the civil code, a full time indefinite-term employment contract may be terminated by either 'party' at any time with two weeks prior notice, article 627.

However case law, and there are numerous examples, make an employer's ability to exercise their right to dismiss virtually impossible, under a clause, abuse of the right to terminate employment where a dismissal shall be deemed null and void if it lacks 'objective' reasonable grounds or is not recognized as 'socially' acceptable, is codified into Article 16 of the labour contract act 2006. So companies, especially small medium sized enterprises are at pains to offer full time indefinite-term contracts.

My own experience in companies hiring highly skill financial dealing software professionals, i.e developing next generation 'Stochastic Oscillator' tools, workstations are being occupied by poor performing professionals inherited under legacy systems, that are legally glued to the office furniture, these employees are reluctant to undertake formal up skilling, so productivity is frankly appalling.

I define flexibility as being able to make quick and relevant adjustments, and am prepared to award skills and attitude, hard work and loyalty with exceptional salary and reciprocal rights, obligations, company commitments and opportunities. But the present system is hobbling employers, forcing retention of poor reforming employees at the expense of merit based recognition and reward. This government needs to make good on its promises of the principles of arrow number 3....

The system of employment at these nuclear facilities is deplorable..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

'the temp workers can always form a union to negotiate the terms and conditions. If it is true that current percentage of temp workers are as high as reported, then it is a force to be reckon with.'

I've said pretty much the same thing to the temps at my office. Most of them humour me as a quite sweet but sadly out if touch. Unions? How....quaint.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This seems to be about tax payments as well as lowering the security of temp staff. Full-time workers are on one of Japan's social insurance systems, but many temp workers are not. Abe wants a higher tax yield, but this legislation has not been thought through. The effect will be for temp workers who had some job security through repeat renewals having no job security at all as employers look to get rid of them after 2-3 years of service. How can this possibly be a good thing for a temp worker? It used to be 5 years by law, but even then many companies repeat-renewed the contracts. I am on my 17th one-year contract here now. Once this legislation is enacted, my company will probably have to get rid of people like me, which will put me back on a first-year temp contract instead of an 18th or 19th. I will be replaced by someone cheaper, who will have a maximum of 3 years to get used to a difficult job before making way for the next man. It's totally ridiculous and shows yet again how far the feudal overlord Abe and his cohorts are out of touch with the reality of life in Japan.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Outlaw staffing agencies and give employers three month to figure out if they want to hire full time or send home new worker....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I wouldn't have a problem with the dispatch system if it involved mobility. If in practice hard-working temporary workers could become directly-hired and poorly-performing directly-hired workers could be fired after reasonable evidence of performance failure, the system could work excellently.

As it stands in Japan, however, the temporary worker system is just a way to hire people indefinitely without giving them any chance at benefits, raises, or promotion, while an employer's only recourse for directly-hired workers who prove themselves incompetent is to bully them until they choose to quit. It's a vicious cycle that causes employers to be more reluctant to hire directly, which makes them depend further on temporary workers, which puts more people with the potential to be productive and innovative in the temporary treadmill. It's a system that kills innovation. Temporary workers have no incentive to innovate because they will never be rewarded for it, and direct-hire workers who don't perform well have no pressure to do better. The only people who benefit are the owners of dispatch agencies who gobble up a portion of the temporary workers' salaries without contributing a single aluminum yen of added value to the work those dispatch workers do.

Short of a law requiring every temporary worker be punched in the face every month, it's hard to imagine any change could make the system worse.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

To my small brain I just can't understand the difference it would give my working life. All I know is that big companies are giving work overseas while encouraging a lot of trainees and real and pseudo language students from overseas to grab from us the remaining work here. And the scenario is quite grim!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

katsu78, yeah, very true, but they have come up with a way to make it worse, which is to introduce legislation which will make employers get rid of temp workers every 3 years and return them all to 1st year wages in another company that just did the same thing to their workers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Some excellent comments. But I wonder how sustainable this system is. I mean, where does the human race see itself in 100 years? It seems the voices of humanity are being drowned out by our selfish greed. The Diet squabbling over 1 year or 3 years for temp services which shouldn't even exist in the first place. Beam me up Scottie.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Minimum hourly wage, 15 days paid holidays plus 'national' after qualifying period , rest breaks, time off for family emergencies, a cap on the working week 39 hours, internal measures to support working parents, protection against discrimination, rights to information and consultation for all irrespective of contract.....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One thing that some people have over looked is, yes hiring cheap temp labour is beneficial IE no commitment, cheaper, can be sacked willy nilly, but the down side is if the temp staff have not got a chance of being employed full time after committing them selfs 100% to a school or office, you have generated a could not care less attitude, so you have made temp staff, not reliable, non committed, and possibly lazy, they will turn up take the wage and, move on to the next temp position if sacked.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

hamptonJUN. 13, 2015 - 01:29PM JST katsu78, yeah, very true, but they have come up with a way to make it worse, which is to introduce legislation which will make employers get rid of temp workers every 3 years and return them all to 1st year wages in another company that just did the same thing to their workers.

I'm not convinced that this bill is worse because I'm not convinced the mass firings you describe are what's going to happen, with the possible exception of truly unskilled labor. For any skilled position being served by temporary workers, any sensible company is going to see firing off a huge group of people they've spent three years training as a very risky proposition. Because if they fire those people off, their rival temporary staffing companies can snatch these employees up without having to pay for their training. Besides, if a company gets a reputation for firing everyone every three years, do you think they're really going to attract quality workers? Whereas if a company gets a reputation for placing workers into permanent, direct hire positions, they're going to attract a lot of talent and have their pick of the lot. Gradually, I think this is going to make things better.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

katsu78, perhaps, but that's not what the law seems to say. If the only choice is between laying off and employing full time, a lot of them will lay off, in which case the scenario I gave is one to look out for.

Richard

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well, Fizzbit, as some commentators here would say, if you don't like where you live - this world - then why don't you indeed go back to somewhere you think is better. But seriously, I have to agree with you. We get choice only in the meaningless and trivial things in life, like toilet paper, and none at all in anything important, like political-economic systems. The squabbling is over where to place the deck chairs on the Titanic.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

go back

That was the last thing on my mind. I really don't like globalists but I don't see us getting very far as a race without it. People tearing apart each other over oil, or minimum wages, it all seems so illogical.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

hamptonJun.

katsu78, perhaps, but that's not what the law seems to say. If the only choice is between laying off and employing full time, a lot of them will lay off, in which case the scenario I gave is one to look out for.

This is the BS I get sick of hearing. I say it's time to call there bluff. If they choose to lay dispatch workers off, who's going to build their Toyotas? Who's going to operate their 7-11s? Who's going to serve their Gyodons? Who's going to operate their call centres? Who's going to staff their offices?

It's not like this place is the UK and employers can import loads of cheap labor from Eastern Europe. This is Japan and unless you have a pretty face to serve drinks to stressed out salary men at night or are married to a Japanese, a work visa, outside of the specialist categories is hard to come by.

Companies within Japan would soon change their tune, if they were domestically confronted with the choice of pay fa fair salary for doing business or do no business at all.

I hate Japanese xenophobia, but I'm sure glad that Japan didn't fall for the 'globalization is the pot of gold at the end of rainbow' BS that seems to have afflicted the rest of the developed world.

Call their bluff, all workers have the same rights or a company has no right to operate in Japan; we'll see very quickly who caves in first.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Gary, I'm with you. It would be absurd to lay people off after 3 years, but in one of my jobs I meet a trail of people (90% female) who are being laid off at the end of a 5-year tenure. We need laws, but we need them to be thought through and not easily open to abuse like this one is. Changing the only protection (5 years) into 3 years does nothing useful and doesn't encourage anyone to be properly employed. This law is not for temps and is simply not good enough.

Roger

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"employers would be allowed to easily swap temporary workers every three years, rather than hiring them full-time"

Well,heck, this is good for employers! To heck with these pesky, expensive full-time workers with their bonuses and benefits, lol.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Abuse in labor, discrimination, inequality is a serious issue in Japan. A perceived developed country where poverty exists on a not to be ignored scale, one reason being the way employees are treated by their employers and the government turning a blind eye. This is not something Japan wants to be known for in the world, but unfortunately it is. Social security is a pillar that supports families, the future of this country. Letting this slide is shameful. Workers are entitled to equal benefits for the same work they do, whether they are temporary or under permanent contract. Discrepancies are discriminatory and unlawful. Government agencies, politicians elected by the people are responsible for the trust invested in them, taking care of their voters, rich and poor, especially the latter in all fairness.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you can't prove that you are worth it after 4 years, well then maybe you should be working at Lawsons.....

If you don't get that your employer is shady after the first week you are blind.........I have had the same employees for over three employees they are very happy......BTW Small growing business's are what keeps a nation moving.....If you can't see it for what it is, well then, you aren't looking outside the big box!

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Life under Abe, what is tomorrow's bad news?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If committees required 2/3 vote to pass committee stage before it can be voted on that would be a solution. Another would be as equal as possible party representation in each committee (2 LDP, 2 DPJ, 2 YP, etc), regardless of majority or proportion.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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