Trends and Prospects in 34 Countries
Union Organising: The Case of Japan 505
JOHN SALMON Union Organising: The Case of Japan 1. Introduction International interest in recent attempts to renew trade union organisa- tion has increased in the wake of union decline. Much current concern has focused on evaluating the capability of union effectiveness in organising and attempts at realignment through union mergers and amalgamations as a means of promoting union growth in conditions of considerable environmental and political change. Despite national differences, there are a number of common developments in recent attempts to strengthen existing union organisation. These include increasing the affiliation of existing unions into national confeder- ations, the consolidation and concentration of union membership through mergers and amalgamations (Chaison 1996; Nakamura 2001), as well as a commitment to expand membership through union organ- ising campaigns. To date much of the focus for change has centred largely on the experiences of Anglo-Saxon countries such as the US (Bronfrenbrenner 1997), Australia (Turnbull 1997), New Zealand (Oxenbridge 2000), Canada (Taras and Copping 1998) and Britain (Heery et al. 2000a, 2000b; Salmon 1998). These mature labour move- ments all have had the advantage of single unified national confeder- ations able to initiate co-ordinated strategies for renewal when faced with a period of historically exceptional membership losses (Heery 1998; Salmon et al. 2000). This chapter considers the ambitious attempts at union renewal and realignment in Japan where, prior to the formation of Rengo in 1987, a politically and ideologically divided labour movement lacked an agreed basis for national unity. This chapter evaluates Rengo’s approach towards...
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