In Japan, collective bargaining is named after “Shunto”.
Shunto refers to the annual spring round of wage that
is negotiable between trade unions and the big business of enterprise unions.
They have three major labour laws which are the Labour Standards Law (LSL),
Trade union Law (TUL), and the Labour Relations Adjustment Law (LRAL). Each labour
law addresses different issues. LSL takes care of the working conditions,
workplace safety and hygiene while LRAL deals with the adjustments and disputes
settled by the law.
The trade unions guarantee workers the right to be part of
the collective bargaining process in accordance of the Constitution. The
structure of Labour Unions comprises of three levels which are the
Enterprise-based labour union, Industrial trade unions and National centres.
Enterprise-based labour union forms the bulk of Japan’s
trade unions. The most unique feature of Enterprise-based labour bargaining is the
autonomy over the process. Additionally, enterprise-based union helps to
maintain and improve the working conditions by participating in collective
bargaining and consultation with the upper management.
The three primary rights mostly practiced in the union
include the right to organise, bargain and engage in strikes. In most cases,
only the company’s permanent staffs are considered to be part of the union. However,
an increasing amount of enterprises is starting to unionise the non-permanent
employees that are in the service sectors.
During the collective
bargaining process, the matters have to be written and either signed or affixed
with seals by both labour and management representatives. The collective
agreement requires three-fourth or more of the regular employees under the same
working area or employees who have applied for the same collective agreements.
The remaining workers will need to conclude their own collective agreements if an
exception exists in some cases.
The longest term for the validity of the collective
agreements is three years by law. Generally, most agreements are within one
year of duration as shown, 58.4% of collective agreements provides a term in
one year and 7.7% has a term of three years. In Japan, collective agreements can be cancelled by either
party giving a minimum of 90-day notice.
between both countries
When we think of developing countries in Asia, Singapore
and Japan come to mind. The workers in both countries are allowed to join and
organise trade union among themselves. However, some rules and regulations specific
to each country apply. In Singapore, trade unions have to register with the Registrar
of Trade Unions within 1 month of formation and an election has to be done
every four years. There must be at least seven members aged 21 years and above
to form a union.
For Japan, the employees need to have two or more members
to form a union at the enterprise level and it is not necessary for new unions
to be registered. The election of the union will be held every year through
secret ballot. However, only the blue-collar workers have the right to conclude
in collective bargaining.
In Singapore, uniformed services are prohibited to form
unions. Other than that, Singapore does not have minimum wages and it is not
allowed to negotiate in some employment conditions such as promotions and
transfers. In comparison, Japan has minimum and maximum wages for the workers
which take into consideration of highest and lowest minimum wages.
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