In order to overcome shortcomings of traditional unions, new grassroots organisations including women’s unions, community unions, part-time workers’ unions, and even a managers’ union have been formed in Japan, write Heidi Gottfried and Anne Zacharias-Walsh. Traditional unions generally excluded women, immigrant and temporary workers from union membership or have been ineffective at addressing their concerns.
The new network unions “have developed outside and against the dominant enterprise union / labour federation model and take as their founding gesture the creation of new democratic structures and egalitarian processes through which marginalised voices can be heard”.
An example is the Women’s Union Tokyo (WUT), an organisation advocating for both women’s and workers’ rights. In order not to become a bureaucratic structure, WUT relies exclusively on the active participation and empowerment of its 250 members.
Two years ago, a loose horizontal network of community-based women’s unions was formed. New information technologies allow easy communication with local networks across Japan and in other Asian countries.
Read the entire article by Gottfried and Zacharias-Walsh. Contact information