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2008年12月30日 (火)

失職者急増―切実な声に応えるために

2008/12/30

--The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 29(IHT/Asahi: December 30,2008)

EDITORIAL: Surging unemployment

失職者急増―切実な声に応えるために

They have only a bag, some clothes and a few coins in their wallet. A growing number of people like this can be seen on the streets as the year nears its end. They are dispatch workers and other laborers who have suddenly lost their jobs and been forced out of their company dormitories.

 かばん一つに少しの着替え。財布には小銭だけ。そんな姿が師走の街に広がりだした。突然の解雇や派遣切りで社員寮を追われた人たちだ。 

After perhaps just a few nights of restless sleep in Internet cafes, they run out of money. Their wallets are empty, but they can't bring themselves to sleep in a park, so they wander aimlessly through the streets all night.

 ネットカフェで浅い眠りにつけるのも、初めのうちだけ。財布が空になったあとは、公園で寝る決意も出来ず一晩中あてもなく街をさまよう。 

Even in normal times, there are few job offers for day workers in the holiday season between the year's end and early January.

 もともと年末年始は、日雇い労働者らが仕事にあぶれやすい時期だった。 

However, this year, things will be worse. In times past, once the New Year holidays ended and the nation got moving again, temp workers could expect to find new jobs. This winter, that is not likely to happen.

 しかし、今年の年の瀬は違う。いつもなら年が明けて世の中が回り出せばまた仕事につけた。この冬はそれが期待できない。 

Moreover, a significant number of people have just recently lost jobs in factories and other places. These people are spending nights on the streets for the very first time.

 その上、ついこの間まで工場などで働いていて、初めて路上で夜を過ごすという人たちが目立っているのだ。 

In late November, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare estimated that about 30,000 nonregular employees would lose their jobs by next spring. Within a month, that estimate nearly tripled to 85,000.

 「来春までに職を失う非正社員は3万人」と厚生労働省が発表したのは11月末のことだ。その後、わずかひと月で8万5千人にはね上がった。 

Some people have killed themselves in despair. Others, falling ill, cannot afford to see a doctor. Some have gone so hungry that they've turned to stealing money for food. The situation is critical. How can things have come to this pass?

 途方に暮れて自ら命を絶つ人が出てきた。体調を崩しても医者にかかれない。食べるものに困って金を奪おうとした。そんな事態が起きるほど、深刻さは増している。 

Citizens groups and labor unions have jumped into action, prompted to somehow support people driven into such dire straits. They are offering consultation services, providing meals on the streets and helping displaced workers negotiate with their former employers over compensation.

 追いつめられた人たちをなんとか支えたい。そんな思いに突き動かされるように動き出した民間団体や労働組合もある。失職者への生活相談や、路上での炊き出し。解雇した企業との交渉。

Some groups are strongly urging the central government ministries and local governments to take countermeasures. Such moves all offer much-needed help to those in need.

霞が関や自治体への働きかけ。当事者には大きな助けとなる。 

Meanwhile, the operators of izakaya pub chains and of a Tokyo-based cram school have both offered to hire people who have lost their jobs. Some local governments have moved quickly ahead of the central government to temporarily offer public housing to desperate jobless workers.

 失職者を新たに雇おうという外食産業や学習塾も現れた。政府より早く公営住宅を提供し始めた自治体もある。 

Much more can be done. Local community halls could be used as shelters. Temples, gymnasiums and corporate facilities that are not in use could also become temporary refuges. We urge local communities to go ahead and use their resources to help the unemployed.

 公民館を開放する。寺や体育館、空いている企業の施設などをしばらく使わせてもらう。そんな工夫も地域ごとに、どんどん進めてもらいたい。 

But in sharp contrast, the central government and the Diet appear lethargic. Why are they so slow to act?

 それにしても、政府や国会の動きの鈍さはどうしたことなのか。 

Here's a proposal for Prime Minister Taro Aso: Why don't you walk around the capital city in the dark, freezing night, and listen directly to the earnest voices of those who have suddenly lost their jobs and homes?

 麻生首相に提案したい。冷え込む夜の街を歩き、職と住まいを失った人の切実な声をまず直接聞いてはどうか。 

Employment security has virtually collapsed. To prevent more people from becoming homeless, the government must create a new social safety net that will save people from joblessness, bankruptcy or other calamities.

 雇用崩壊というべき事態である。新たなホームレスを生まないために、失業や倒産でつまずいた時の安全網を今こそ張り直さなければならない。 

It can happen to anyone at any time, even tomorrow. If one was fired today, it would not take long for one to realize that the existing systems to help the jobless are extremely frail and unreliable.

 明日はわが身かもしれない。もしいま解雇されたら、自分はどんな手だてや制度で身を守れるか。支えの弱さを実感する人も少なくないはずだ。 

If workers are not covered by unemployment insurance, then they have no financial support to fall back on when they lose their job. Next year, larger numbers of jobless people will end up relying on social welfare.

 雇用保険に入っていなければ、職を失った時が心配だ。来年は生活保護に頼る人もいっそう増えるだろう。

Previously, some local governments around the nation had refused to accept welfare applications from young people, instead just telling such applicants to get a job.

Such welfare offices must change their attitudes immediately.

「働きなさい」と若い世代を門前払いにしてきた一部の自治体の対応も、早急に改めてほしい。 

We also need to review the way the nation's workforce is treated. Many observers previously feared that nonregular workers, with their weak position in the labor pool, could be too easily jettisoned by companies adjusting staffing levels. That prediction has come true.

 働き方も見直したい。立場の弱い非正社員が雇用の調整弁となる。恐れていた事態はいとも簡単に現実のものとなった。

So what kind of a labor system is needed to prevent this from happening and protect workers from being discarded at will? How should the worker dispatch law be revised?

どんな仕組みがあれば、労働者が使い捨てられずにすむのか。労働者派遣法はどう変えるべきか。 

As this year draws to a close, with its expanding waves of economic recession, we must again think about these problems and find solutions.

 不況の年の瀬にもう一度考えたい。

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