Rengo (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), at its Central Committee Meeting in October 2000, decided to establish its own organization to handle fee-charging job placements and the dispatching of workers. In November, it invested ¥100 million to set up a joint-stock company called Rengo Hello Work and hired expert staff from outside. Hello Work is also the name by which the Public Employment Security Offices are commonly known.
The revisions to the Worker Dispatching Law and Employment Security Law came into effect in December 1999. These laws relaxed restrictions on providing worker dispatching services and fee-charging job placements whereby employees are supplied to private firms. Since the relaxation of regulations concerning these aspects of the labor market, an increasing number of private firms have become involved in human resource allocation. Although a series of debates concerning relaxation of restrictions occurred in the mid-90s, Rengo had consistently opposed the Committee on Administrative Reform and employers' associations which had called for the involvement of private companies in the provision of such services. Instead, Rengo argued for the maintenance of the state-guided job placement system, claiming it protected workers better than private providers could. The entry of Rengo into this activity can thus be seen as a reflection of how quickly the labor market is evolving in Japan owing to the increased level of unemployment which has resulted from the extensive restructuring undertaken by firms in the face of the bleak economic situation. Rengo can be seen as taking the initiative in putting its mind to the immediate task of finding work for unemployed workers rather than simply engaging in a protracted discussion of the system.
Rengo's business plan will begin with the setting up of a job placement business in the Tokyo metropolitan area. In cooperation with Zensen-domei (Japanese Federation of Textile, Garment, Chemical, Commercial, Food and Allied Industries Workers' Unions), a Rengo affiliate which already operates a similar business, Rengo will share information about vacancy lists while also asking some 5,000 private firms with enterprise unions affiliated to Rengo to provide information on job openings. Rengo's new organization will maintain a register itself, and will accept registrations from job-seekers from January 2001. Its plans currently call for its registrations to be open both to union and to non-union workers. Rengo also announced its intention to expand its business in two years' time to other parts of Japan, including the Kinki and Hokkaido areas. The fee for job introduction is currently under consideration. The plan is to charge a fee below that being charged by other private job placement companies.
Rengo remained undecided as to when it would launch its worker dispatching and vocational training businesses. Its initial plans were to deal only with specialized occupations which were allowed before revision of the Worker Dispatching Law, and to increase the wages of their dispatched workers. As for the vocational training business, it is anticipated that it would not have its own training facilities but that it would take advantage of unused facilities in firms that had gone out of business and other such venues. Rengo is also planning to commit itself to supporting activities on behalf of student job-seekers by helping students and pupils gain experience in actual workplaces through an internship program which could be run as a business.
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