Japanese labor movement and Doro-Chiba's Struggle
Jul 14th, 2003

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Japanese labor movement and Doro-Chiba's Struggle

1.The present condition of the 2003 annual spring offensive strikes and Japanese labor movement

(1) DORO CHIBA rose up for 2003 annual spring offensive strikes from March the 27th to 30th. We went on strike under the slogan of Anti Iraqi war, Stop Emergency Law, Stop the change for worse of labor law system, Withdrawal of 1047 railroad workers discharge who were fired by privatization of JNR (Japan National Railways), Cancellation of total outsourcing of works going on in JR and Stop union busting. This strike was carried out under the situation of Iraqi war. Iraqi war was started on March the 20th, and Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi expressed support in this war and hasted to enact Emergency Law. As many as 540 members of our union participated in this 80 hours strike and drove 600 trains into suspension.
In particular, at that time, international united anti Iraqi war action was fought with the scale that the world had ever seen. Tens of millions of people rose up again and again. It gave us Japanese workers big courage and the prospects of victory. We are proud to go on strike in solidarity with the workers of the whole world and to be able to strengthen our solidarity.

(2) In Japan, we are attacked by intense political reaction that seems to overturn present state of post World War(II) society, and Japanese workers are facing the serious situation now. Along with Iraqi war, three Emergency Laws were discussed in the Japanese Diet and were concluded on June 6th. Japan has begun to set foot on a road to war again while owning a constitution to "abandon war forever".
These laws authorize the prime minister on all, and establish that he can enter into war promptly when government judges that there is a fear of military power attack.
In addition, these laws authorize the armed forces to give business engagement orders to the workers, and they can use land, houses and every supply by force.
We the workers of railroad are appointed as the object to be forced to cooperate to war. Three Emergency Laws are obviously aiming aggression war to North Korea And still more another law was concluded that determines that a nation manages all personal information unitarily.
However, the greatest problem is that this law was concluded by historic betrayal of an opposition party in a dreadful situation that 90% of the Diet members agreed to these laws. Japanese biggest National Center RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), who announced an opinion to agree to these laws, and many other groups fall into nationalism and whole country agreement again, and are going to be cooperators of war.
Now in Japan, hostility and xenophobia to North Korea are campaigned violently taking advantage of "kidnapping problems". By this campaign, the essence of a thing is covered, and hatred and fear are going to become spirit of the times while nobody notices about this danger.
Our strike in annual spring offensive was the fight with determination to face this big historical crossroads.
DORO CHIBA has built the basis of today's organization through anti Vietnam War struggle. And we also joined in Sanrizuka struggle (farmers battle against Narita Airport ) which is Japan's biggeest farmers fight and anti State Power struggle after World War two, and keeps on fighting against military airport construction. We refused the freight train transportation of jet fuel to the airport by the strike of many times in solidarity with the farmers. And for this reason, we received control punishment from headquarters of DORO (National Railway Motive Power Union) which was our higher organization. By this reason we were forced to organize a new labor union DORO CHIBA.
So anti-War struggle is our most important starting point.

(3) On the other hand, in such a situation, a new struggle of workers started.
Alliance of labor unions belonging to industries forced cooperation in case of war, so- called "land / sea / sky / harbor 20 labor unions group", gathered overcoming the difference of national center and appealed to fight against War and Emergency Laws with nationwide scale, and we are fighting as a member of this alliance. Many groups are taking part in this movement, such as railroad-related labor union, a seamen's union, an aviation-related association, a harbor labor union and a medical care-affiliated labor union and many other citizen movement and religion person.
The National Center RENGO has turned over to conservative, and noticed to the labor unions of the whole country not to join in this movement. In spite of this reaction 30,000 or 50,000 people gathered during the days of Iraqi war again and again. Right after the passage of Emergency Laws, we determined to enlarge the "No completion, No operation, No cooperation, No obedience to the Emergency Laws " movement including a fight against preparation of related laws.

(4) Along with this declination to war, full-scale attack to workers and labor unions started, and a decisive blow is going to be given to the right and justice of workers.
The Japanese unemployment rate is a little over 5% by government statistics, but this bases on Japanese original standard and exceeds well 10% if converted into an international standard. Household of below 13,000 dollars income extends to 10%, and also the nonstandard / unstable employment is increasing rapidly and extends to 30%. And yet the business world submits a report to make this 90%. The suicide who did it from a bother about discharge reaches 10,000 people every year, and recent personnel reduction plan shown by large companies reaches 1,000,000 people. Large-scale privatization attack is being put on national civil servants and local public service workers. The postal administration, that was a national enterprise, has changed into a public corporation in this April as a step for complete privatization.
In this situation, the Diet session was extended to pass the bill to dispatch Japanese Self-Defense Forces to Iraq, which was concluded in the House of Representatives on July 4th, and at the same time a bill to change the labor law system was presented. It will force majority of workers irregular-unstable employment, and establish discharge of workers as a right of employers. In Japan, the wage of irregular employees is lower than one-third of regular employees' wage. By the submission of opposition party, these bills were passed including great tax increase and large reduction of unemployment compensation.
The last door is wide open to demolish workers'right.
And now, a voice of anger is full among the workers, and it's no wonder if it explodes even today. The voice of anger is turned to submission of leaders of the labor union who cannot organize a single effective fight in such an attack, and movement to a new struggle is going to start.

(5) Attack to workers rages intensely also in JR (Japan National Railway i.e. JNR was privatized in 1987), and attack to workers is still more intense.
Now JR is pushing forward total outsourcing of all the tasks related to railroad transportation except management section. They are trying to throw out all the tasks and all the workers. We call this "the second Division and Privatization attack".
At the end of the year of 2001, outsourcing was put in practice in the section of maintenance and construction of railway, electricity and signal communications division. And now another outsourcing is going on in the section of inspection, repair and yard-driver.
But only in the area of JR Chiba branch, we drove into the situation that they cannot carry out these outsourcing by our continuous strikes and non-cooperation struggle for three years from 2001 to 2003.
On the other hand, JR is keeping on intense union busting for 16 years from the starting of the company, such as successive forced allocation, the abolition of stronghold workplace, dispersion attack of unionists, compensation request for damages by strike ,excessive issue of punishment for the reason of "violent language" to the manager and discrimination on wages.
We DORO CHIBA's basic standpoint is that our solidarity gets stronger through these unfair labor practice and union busting, and we can defeat only by reinforcing our solidarity and struggle.
The strike in the annual spring offensive in March was also a fight to demand immediate cancellation of such an union busting attack just now.

2. Struggle against Division and Privatization of JNR

(1) In the history of struggle of DORO CHIBA, the greatest fight was the struggle against
division / privatization of the National Railways Corporation namely struggle against 100,000 workers' discharge. In 1983 Prime Minister Nakasone's cabinet proposed division / privatization policy of the National Railways Corporation, and storm of union busting raged ever after. As for the intensity of this attack, the biggest labor union in the National Railways Corporation KOKURO (National Railway Workers' Union) decreased from 224,000 to 44,000 in only four years from 1983 to 1987, and about 130,000 workers was driven from their working place.
Later Prime Minister Nakasone declared openly that the purpose of privatization was to smash National Railways Corporation labor movement in order to smash SOHYO, the biggest National Center at that time. This attack was done not only to discharge hundred and tens of thousands of Railway workers and to destroy their right, but also it was the national unfair labor practice that was contrived to dismantle labor movement.

(2) In this intense attack, the correspondence of a labor union in the National Railways Corporation was broken to two groups. One group objected to privatization. DORO CHIBA, KOKURO and ZENDORO are in this group. Another group approved of privatization. Headquarters of DORO and TETURO are in this group. Especially Headquarters of DORO made himself a worst cat's-paw of union busting. The labor unions, which became a cat's-paw of privatization attack at this time, dissolved after privatization and united into present JR SOREN. And also KOKURO, who objected to privatization, submitted a policy to compromise with privatization in the general meeting of 1986, but this compromise policy was rejected in extraordinary meeting after three months by a voice of intense anger of unionists. But in this disruption, huge amount of unionists withdrew from KOKURO one after another and as a result they couldn't hold a single fight.
The attack began with a campaign contrived skillfully "Japan National Railways workers play truant from work and they get unfair pay by the work they are not engaged in, and ran through a tax of the nation" "They are the enemy of country" such a campaign was set up by mass media day after day, and a siege network was built against National Railways workers.
In particular, the attack intensified like a storm after 1985 when the last report to divide the National Railways Corporation was announced. The means was that they made several hundred places asylums in the whole country, and isolates officers and ten and several thousands of activists who opposed to privatization, and in the work place they were driven out, company authorities united with privatization agreeing union set intense union withdrawal and retirement compulsion attack. That was right unprecedented.

(3) In this attack, we recognized that the government plans to fire one third National Railway workers and aims at dismantling National Railways labor movement from the first. Now that things have come to this, we can't avoid this attack, and if we don't fight and prepare for the sacrifice, we will only sit and wait for destruction of solidarity. And still more if we don't make a counterattack, total Japanese labor movement gets decisive blow. So we decided on a policy to go on strike wearing life and death of DORO CHIBA at the convention in September of 1985. It was not easy to carry out this strike. Because the strike was prohibited by law, as for the Japan National Railways those days, it was clear that they discharge a large quantity of workers. However, it was also clear that we were in the situation that even if we don't fight, one third workers will be fired. We decided this policy, while we repeated argument among unionists and their families and local workers and made the struggle system.

(4) As for the fight, it was the intense offensive and defensive battle mainly on the first wave strike from 28 to 29 on November in 1985, the second wave strike of February 15, 1986.
Police oppressed this strike by surrounding stronghold workplace in a member of 10,000 riot police, and the Japan National Railways authorities announced a punishment of hundred and several tens of unionists including 20 discharge for the first wave strike, and for the second wave strike they announced punishment of more than three hundred unionists including 8 discharge. And still more, they gave us an unprecedented attack. They brought a compensation lawsuit of 300,000 dollars for damages by strike.
In addition, at the time of division and privatization enforcement of April, 1987, they refused to adopt 12 members to the privatized new company = JR. by the reason that they have received suspension from duty punishment by this strike. This strike was one and only strike of the Japan National Railways workers against division and privatization. And this fight enlarged a big ripple in the whole country.
I think that we could make clear the essence of the division and privatization attack of the National Railways Corporation that has been covered by intentional government announcement and the news of mass media, and we could make this a social problem through our strike. After this struggle, the mass media came to report the truth of this attack gradually. And we protected solidarity of all the members of union, because we determined this struggle and carried it through. We marched into privatized JR maintaining our solidarity and succeeded in continuing a struggle.

3. For withdrawal of discharged workers by privatization

(1) Now I report a struggle of withdrawal of the workers fired by privatization and I request you for support to this struggle at the end of my report. In the struggle of discharge withdrawal after privatization we could win a great victory. With repeated strikes especially from January to March of 1990, massive protest movement, struggle in the court and in the labor relations board in 1997, we could withdraw discharge of 28 members who were fired in the above mentioned strikes of the first wave and the second wave.
During the days of this struggle, JR East Japan Company attacked to blockade union office in advance of the strike fought from March the 18th to 21st in 1990. Facing this situation we advanced the start of strike, but after the strike, JR brought a lawsuit of 180,000 dollars compensation for this advanced strike as "an illegal strike".

(2) Now the struggle of discharge withdrawal of 1047 members of DORO CHIBA, KOKURO and ZENDORO is keeping on. This struggle of 16 years faces new difficult situation. KOKURO has been fighting a struggle of discharge withdrawal with us, but now leaders of KOKURO is deepening their treachery rapidly and bend their knees to the prolongation and difficulty of struggle.
The beginning of a thing was that Japanese government and the Liberal Democratic Party brought "solution plan" of demanding total surrender to KOKURO which was declining to political negotiation throwing out the struggle against JR. The plan was that "If KOKURO determines in convention that JR has no legal responsibility on discharge and withdraw all the lawsuits, government will request JR to sit on the table of negotiation" and KOKURO headquarters determined acceptance of this plan despite intense opposite voice of unionists.
And moreover government and the Liberal Democratic Party demanded to strike off the members who insist on keeping on fighting without obeying to this determination. Headquarters of KOKURO accepted this demand and put them on commission of inquiry. And at last they came to request the police to arrest the members. At the temporary convention of May 27th of last year, they took picture of video of the members insisting on continuing withdrawal of discharge and protested against headquarters. They presented video to the police and 7 KOKURO members and 1 supporter was arrested and they are still in jail for 9 months. We can never forgive this!
We've never heard that only the protest against headquarters over fighting plan of labor union can be the reason of arrest. This is unfair oppression that denies entirely the right of organization. However, in the situation of establishment of Emergency Laws, labor union activists are arrested with a trifling reason and imprisoned for a long time. We believe that the way to the victory of 1047 discharge withdrawal exists in the struggle to crush this attack. Now we are fighting with every effort to enlarge the struggle of anti unjust oppress of frame-up.

We are determined to fight with every effort for reinforcement of anti-war struggle in Japan and revival of fighting labor movement.

What workers should acquire is the world. Let's keep on fighting to the victory together.