Solidarity message to Zenroren

Comrades in ZENROREN:Zenroren

Militant greetings from Filipino trade union and social activists!

The Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) – a national labor center of different types of workers’ organizations in the private, informal and migrant sectors in the Philippines – warmly congratulates our trade unionist sisters and brothers in ZENROREN or the National Confederation of Trade Unions for its 23rd Regular Convention in Tokyo on July 23-25.

This is one more milestone for ZENROREN because it signifies that the Confederation has overcome another year of struggles and is looking forward to a tough but eventually another triumphant year. And this occasion is doubly meaningful since it will also usher in ZENROREN’s momentous 20th anniversary next year. Its almost two decades of existence is a testimony to its trailblazing and no-nonsense efforts to defend and advance the Japanese working people’s labor and trade union rights, as well as the general welfare of the Japanese masses, while at the same time linking up with the broad labor and social movements in Japan and abroad, including the APL.

ZENROREN’s resoluteness and commitment for its cause is even more pressing in the light of the worldwide rampage of the neoliberal or corporate globalization that has further buried the vast majority of peoples, both from the South and North, into abject poverty and powerlessness. For instance, despite the perceived affluence of the Japanese workers, it has been reported that in the past 10 years, their average incomes have decreased by 11.8 percent, and about 4.2 million of them cannot pay insurance fees because of the already many taxes that they have to pay. There is also an increasing underclass of working poor and over 50,000 homeless people – though small, vis-à-vis the almost 4 million “vagrants” in the US, for example, is already an indication of the growing income divide and of the worse that is yet to come. All this amid state pension cuts, rising health insurance premiums, and laws that allow companies to hire more “temporary” workers with lower wages. It is even said that in the flurry to impose “free-market” policies, Japan is creating a “lost generation” – those who are “unable to gain full-time employment, ineligible for marriage, unlikely to raise children and trapped outside the pension and health systems.”

It is thus fitting that among the issues and concerns that would be discussed and from which “action policies” are to be formulated in your Convention are “eradicating poverty and establishing working rules” that would truly benefit, not harm, the workers. We are sure that ZENROREN will also vigorously address the recently enacted “Anti-terrorism Special Measures Law” in Japan, which essentially echoes only the US government’s distorted global war on “terrorism,” as well as the new anti-elderly medical care system.

If that depressing situation is happening in Japan, how much more in the more numerous so-called developing countries like the Philippines? In fact, on the subject of income only: Half of the world today, or nearly three billion people, lives on less than $2 a day; over 80 percent of the world’s population are in countries where income disparities are widening; and the world’s poorest 40 percent accounts for merely 5 percent of global income, while the richest 20 percent corners three-quarters of the world’s wealth!

This and other related global problems will worsen because the current capitalist-driven globalization – with its one-sided liberalization, deregulation and privatization economic programs – has even exacerbated poverty and wretchedness, where a few big rich (a few individuals and giant transnational corporations) getting richer and more powerful, while the majority getting poorer and powerless, including the huge ranks of workers. This neoliberal globalization – fully backed by WTO, IMF-World Bank, and other related multilateral institutions – has also unleashed worldwide systematic labor “flexibility” and corporate “productivity” measures that led to a drastic reduction of regular and unionized workforce, and have substantially constricted a range of rights and benefits once provided them. It has created a massive army of non-regular and informal workers, who are much “cheaper,” more “docile,” scattered and pitted against each other (and to the regular workers, especially the union members), and banned from joining unions.

We can, of course, interrupt and eventually reverse the current advance of neoliberalism by revitalizing and strengthening the labor movement along with the civil society or the broader social movements in Japan, in the Philippines, in the whole world. Just like the flourishing “anti-globalization” movement, ZENROREN, APL and other fraternal groups can enhance cross border solidarity or carry out joint campaigns that can effectively respond to several issues that are of mutual concern to our organizations. For example, in opposing the proposed Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), which has several provisions that are harmful to the Filipino workers, the local industries, and the environment. Other issues include the disadvantageous trade clauses in the Japan-Asean Free Trade Agreement; diverse concerns in migration; among others.

Again, the APL wishes the ZENROREN a successful 23rd Convention and more success ahead in organizing, educating and mobilizing the Japanese working people!

Long live ZENROREN!Long live the working classes in Japan, in the Philippines, and throughout the world!Workers of the world unite!

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