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2009年1月12日 (月)

雇用問題 粗雑すぎる製造業派遣論議

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 12, 2009)

No sweeping statements needed on temp staff

雇用問題 粗雑すぎる製造業派遣論議(112日付・読売社説)

Amid rapidly increasing job cuts among nonregular contract workers, the employment situation has become a lively topic of debate in recent days.


The government, ruling and opposition parties as well as the business community must draw on their combined wisdom to reduce employment insecurity.


In the second supplementary budget for fiscal 2008 and the state budget for fiscal 2009, money has been allocated for various employment-linked emergency measures, including those to assist reemployment and relax the conditions for temp staff to receive employment insurance. As a start, these two budgets should be quickly passed through the Diet.


Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe has called into question the allowing of nonregular contract workers to be employed in the manufacturing sector.


The Democratic Party of Japan and other opposition parties are preparing to submit a bill during the current Diet session to revise the Temporary Staffing Services Law to basically prohibit the dispatching of temp staff to the manufacturing sector.


According to a survey by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, nearly 70 percent of nonregular contract workers who have lost or are about to lose their jobs are temp staff dispatched to the manufacturing sector. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that attention is focused on the issue of dispatching temp staff to this sector.



Manufacturing OK'd in 2004

The dispatching of temp staff to the manufacturing sector was given the go-ahead in 2004, after business community demands in the face of severe international competition. As companies at that time were increasingly shifting their production bases overseas to cut costs, the measure was also aimed at boosting employment.


But the viewpoint of Masuzoe and the opposition parties is still too rudimentary to be worthy of consideration. The arguments for a total ban and the need for a tightening of the regulations will turn out to be different. It is not a problem for which categorical judgments can be made about its pros and cons.


Companies are also in a weak position due to the global recession. If dispatching temp staff to the manufacturing sector is totally banned, business performance will further deteriorate, and the shrinking of employment opportunities will be inevitable. And the knock-on effects could be even more significant.


We should not jump to conclusions. The task that lies ahead requires the deepening of discussions over the merits and demerits of dispatching temp staff to the manufacturing sector as well as measures to improve the conditions under which this takes place.



A time for job sharing?

Fujio Mitarai, chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), has frequently said that the idea of job sharing is one option for protecting employment. This system allows companies to shorten working hours and employees to share their workloads.


In 2002, at the time of a previous recession, adopting the idea of job sharing became the focus of intense discussion. However, many business leaders were wary of adopting the system, claiming that it would lead to a decline in labor productivity. Fearing that the introduction of job sharing would lead to wage cuts, active support in the labor movement was not evident, either.


The possibility of introducing job sharing depends on the different circumstances of each category of business and company. As such, no single uniform arguments can be made with regard to this issue, either. Even with encouragement from business groups, it is still far from clear if the introduction of job sharing would become a major trend.


To improve the security of employment for nonregular contract workers, it is necessary to overhaul both the safety net for the unemployed and the vocational training system.


But what is called for above all else is the hammering out of effective economic stimulus measures by the government.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 12, 2009)

20091120128  読売新聞)


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