Japanese unions win 100 percent increase in coronavirus subsidy
UA ZENSEN president Akihiko Matsuura hands over union’s demand to Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, Katsunobu Kato | IndustriALL

Since the outbreak of coronavirus in Japan in February 2020, the Japanese Federation of Textile, Chemical, Food, Commercial, Service and General Workers’ Unions (UA ZENSEN) and other IndustriALL Japanese affiliates have continuously engaged with the Japanese government to increase the amount of EAS, to ensure decent living conditions for their members under government confinement orders.

During the health crisis, the Japanese government introduced numerous Covid-19 emergency packages to bolster the economy and retain jobs. The proclamation of a state of emergency in April restricted the movement of all Japanese citizens for more than one month, which seriously impacted workers’ income.

UA ZENSEN demanded that the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare increase EAS to support its members who lost income during the emergency and confinement.

On 1 April, the coverage of EAS was expanded to all companies which were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic as a special measure. The subsidy rates were raised to 67 per cent for large and 80 per cent for small and medium-sized companies.

Subsequently, in mid-June, UA ZENSEN and other IndustriALL affiliates achieved a victory after the government announced an increase of the subsidy from ¥8,330 to ¥15,000 (USD 140) per person per day, almost doubling it. Subsidy rates were increased to 75 per cent for large and 100 per cent for small and medium-sized companies.

During an interview, UA ZENSEN president Akihiko Matsuura said:

“Since March, we had been meeting ministry officials and submitted our proposals to push for the increase of EAS. In addition, we had liaised with members of House of Councillors originally from UA ZENSEN. They played a vital role in lobbying the government.

“We are glad that the policy change not only benefits our members, it also extends to all Japanese workers suffered during the pandemic. This shows the vital role of trade unions as policy advocates in improving the well-being of workers”

IndustriALL regional secretary Annie Adviento says:

“I congratulate the success of UA ZENSEN and other Japanese affiliates in increasing the EAS. UA ZENSEN is amongst the unions hit the hardest because it covers workers in the manufacturing sector and small enterprises as well as the service and retail sector.

“The efforts of our affiliates in Japan will have a profound impact in South East Asia. The resilience of the Japanese economy will ensure sustainability of its supply chain and indirectly retain employment opportunities in the region.”

This article was reprinted from IndustriALL.


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People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.